Appeals Court Upholds Restitution

In Long Beach criminal court people are convicted on cases and ordered to repay restitution as part of their sentence, in this case the appellate court upheld a large award in an unusual case (People vs Pierce .

Defendant pleaded no contest to a home invasion robbery and admitted he acted in concert with two other men. One his codefendants left the scene in the victim’s truck and crashed it into a telephone pole, damaging the pole and a house. Pierce was sentenced to state prison. At his initial sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered him to pay restitution of $539.57 plus interest to one victim, and reserved jurisdiction to modify the amount. After that hearing, the prosecutor moved to modify the victim restitution award for the victim and to add three additional victims in relation to the telephone pole (both for the damage to the pole and the damage caused by the pole falling on a house). The trial court granted the motion and added nearly $50,000 in restitution to the amount previously ordered.

On appeal, Pierce contended that the trial court erred in modifying the restitution order without vacating the previous order, to avoid duplication of the restitution award to the original victim. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that it was clear that the trial court’s intent in issuing the modified order was to supersede the previous restitution order. Pierce also argued that the trial court erred in imposing restitution for damages caused by a codefendant because the prosecutor explicitly waived the claim at the initial sentencing hearing. The appellate court also rejected that argument. Although the prosecutor initially did not seek victim restitution relative to the telephone pole, the victims were all entitled to full restitution for the economic loss they suffered as a result of Pierce’s conduct. (Pen. Code, § 1202.4, subd. (f).) The prosecutor cannot waive a victim’s right to restitution. ) (CCAP)

Most criminal defense attorneys will ascertain the exact amount of any restitution before any plea is made.

 

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