The People v. B.H

Decision Date20 August 2010
Docket NumberA126480,No. C-153577-06,C-153577-06
PartiesTHE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. B.H., Defendant and Appellant.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
B.H., Defendant and Appellant.

No. C-153577-06

Court Of Appeal Of The State Of California
First Appellate District
Division One

Filed: August 20, 2010

Dondero, J.

Defendant challenges the juvenile court's imposition of an order for restitution of the victims pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6.1 We find that the restitution order was proper, and the amounts ordered to compensate the victims for damage to property and lost income are supported by the evidence. We therefore affirm the judgment.


On April 30, 2009, defendant admitted that she committed the offense of hit-andrun driving, causing injury (Veh. Code, § 20001, subd. (a)), as charged in a delinquency petition (§ 602). She was detained in secure custody at the Juvenile Justice Center, and the matter of restitution remained "open." At a subsequent dispositional hearing the level

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of the admitted offense was set at a felony, defendant was adjudged a ward of the court, and released from confinement at the Juvenile Justice Center to the custody of a guardian, with specified terms and conditions of probation. A restitution hearing was set for October 20, 2009.

The probation report submitted for the determination of restitution indicated that "two victims" suffered damages in the case. Defendant struck a vehicle, a 2001 CL-55 Mercedes, occupied by Henry Gaar. The registered owner of the Mercedes was listed as Luvenia Gaar, Henry's mother, 3 The Mercedes suffered "major damage." Following the accident, Henry was transported to the hospital for treatment of neck and back injuries.

Henry returned a restitution packet in which he sought $31,079.17 for damages to the "totaled" vehicle, $6,500.00 for lost wages, and medical expenses of $3,969.77, for a total of $41,548.94. In support of the claim for damages to the Mercedes Henry submitted an insurance company repair estimate of $31,079.17. He also submitted a letter dated June 1, 2009, from his employer, Platinum Motorsports, in Richmond, that stated Henry was employed an average of 50 to 60 hours per week at a base hourly pay rate of $23.85 per hour, but had been "on disability" status due to an auto accident since April 29, 2009. Disability slips from Henry's chiropractor declared that he was "totally incapacitated" from an "auto collision" on April 28, 2009, and could not return to work until June 11, 2009.

The probation report specified that the value of a 2001 Mercedes CL-55 is only $20,360, and noted that Henry failed to provide a "salary history" to support his claim for lost wages. A restitution hearing, with testimony from Henry, was recommended to determine "wage loss and property damage." The documentation for Henry's medical expenses was considered adequate, and was uncontested.

At the restitution hearing on October 20, 2009, Henry agreed that the insurance company adjuster's estimate for the value of the Mercedes was $28,065, whereas the stated Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle was $23,310. The estimate of $31,079 he

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previously submitted was for the repair of the Mercedes, which had some custom accessories. When the repair costs escalated beyond the "cap" set by the insurance company, the vehicle was declared "totaled." Of the total of $28,065 the insurance company ultimately agreed to pay for the Mercedes, $1,065 was paid to a salvage company "for the scrap of the car," $17,784 was paid to Capital One Auto Finance to satisfy the remainder of the outstanding loan, and the balance of $9,215.09 was paid to Luvenia, the owner of the car.

Henry also explained at the hearing that the amount of $6,500 he requested for lost wages was "just an estimate" the insurance company agreed upon as reimbursement after receiving verification of his employment and wages from Platinum Motorsports. Henry testified that he is an independent contractor with Platinum Motorsports, and is typically paid a commission "based on how many cars" he sells.

Following the restitution hearing the trial court awarded the total amount of $38,365 to Henry "and his mother" as restitution for property damage, wage loss and medical expenses. In this appeal defendant challenges the restitution order on several grounds.


I. The Content of the Restitution Order.

First, defendant claims that the restitution order itself is "statutorily inadequate." She complains that the trial court failed to "identify each victim and the amount of each victim's loss to which it pertains," as required by section 730.6, subdivision (h). She asks us to remand the case to "have the current restitution order at the very least clarified to satisfy the requirements of the statute."

"Restitution is constitutionally and statutorily mandated in California." (People v. Keichler (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1045; see also People v. O'Neal (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 817, 820.)4 "Section 730.6 governs restitution in cases where a minor is

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adjudicated a ward of the court pursuant to section 602. [Citation.] Section 730.6 parallels Penal Code section 1202.4, which governs adult restitution."5 (In reM.W. (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 1, 4.)

Subdivision (h) of section 730.6 provides, in part, that, "A restitution order pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), to the extent possible, shall identify each victim, unless the court for good cause finds that the order should not identify a victim or victims, and the amount of each victim's loss to which it pertains, and shall be of a dollar amount sufficient to fully reimburse the victim or victims for all determined economic losses incurred as the result of the minor's conduct for which the minor was found to be a person described in Section 602," including the value of stolen or damaged property, wages or profits lost due to injury incurred by the victim, and medical expenses. (Italics added.) The court need not make formal or express findings on the record that specify the reasons in support of the imposition of a mandatory restitution order. (See People v. Urbano (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 396, 405; People v. Gray (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 213, 221; People v. Romero (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 1148, 1156.) The record before us reflects that the court specified the amount of the restitution order, $38,365, and identified the victims as Henry "and his mother." As we read the statute, nothing further was required.

II. The Award of Restitution to Luvenia Gaar.

Defendant also argues that restitution for damage to the Mercedes was erroneously awarded to someone "who did not own the property." She asserts that section 730.6 authorizes restitution only "to the victim or victims" of crimes. She also points out that although Henry submitted the claim for restitution, the vehicle belonged to his mother Luvenia. Defendant adds that Luvenia "never made a claim, and Henry was not the owner of the vehicle." Defendant therefore maintains that the "order for restitution as to the damaged vehicle should be overturned."

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"When a minor is adjudged a ward of the court, the juvenile court must order restitution to reimburse a victim for 'any economic loss' resulting from the minor's conduct bringing [her] within the court's jurisdiction. (§ 730.6, subds. (a)(1) & (h).)" (In re Brian N. (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 591, 593.) For purposes of section 730.6, "the term 'victim' [is] defined expansively" to include not only the actual victim of a crime, but also " 'the immediate surviving family of the actual victim.' [Citation.]" (People v. Torres (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 1, 4; see also People v. Hamilton (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 932, 939.) "A 'derivative victim' is 'an individual who sustains pecuniary loss as a result of injury or death to a victim.' [Citation.] A pecuniary loss is 'an economic loss or expense____' [Citation.]" (People v. O'Neal, supra, 122 Cal.App.4th 817, 821.) The intent of the constitutional and statutory provisions " 'is plain: every victim who suffers a loss shall have the right to restitution from those convicted of the crime giving rise to that loss.' [Citation.]" (People v. Mearns (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 493, 501.) "The purpose of an order for victim restitution is threefold, to...

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