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The People v. M.A

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA SIXTH APPELLATE DISTRICT


December 29, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
M.A., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.

Santa Clara County Super. Ct. No. JV34306

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rushing, P.J.

In re M.A. CA6

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

In re M.A., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.

M.A. appeals an order that he pay restitution in the amount of $10,192.56 to the mother of his victim for time she needed to take off work to care for her son. The amount ordered represents 168 of vacation hours that were donated to the victim's mother, because she exhausted her existing sick leave caring for her son. M.A. asserts the order of restitution was improper, because the vacation hours were donated, and therefore, the victim's mother suffered no actual economic loss.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE*fn1

In July 2008, M.A. admitted the following charges in a juvenile delinquency petition: assault with a deadly weapon or by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury (Pen. Code, §§ 245, subd. (a)(1), 1203, subd. (e)(3)), possession of marijuana for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11359), misdemeanor interference with a business (Pen. Code, § 602.1), misdemeanor battery (Pen. Code, § 243, subd. (a)), resisting an executive peace officer (Pen. Code, § 69).

As a result of the admissions, M.A. was made a ward of the court, and was placed on probation outside the home with a maximum period of confinement of nine years two months. The court also ordered that M.A. pay restitution in the amount of $85,192.56. Of this amount, $10,192.56 represented 168 hours of vacation time that was donated to the victim's mother, Aster Worku, for time she needed to take off of work to care for her son who was severely injured as a result of M.A.'s criminal conduct.

In the juvenile court, the parties agreed that $10,192.56 represented the amount of Ms. Worku's 168 hours of time off work to care for her son; however, they disputed whether this restitution should be ordered, because the hours had been donated by co-workers.

DISCUSSION

M.A. asserts on appeal that the juvenile court erred when it ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $10,192.56 for Ms. Worku's use of 168 vacation hours that were donated by her co-workers.

Restitution in juvenile delinquency matters is governed by Welfare and Institutions Code, section 730.6, subdivision (a)(1),*fn2 which states, "It is the intent of the Legislature that a victim of conduct for which a minor is found to be the person described in Section 602 who incurs any economic loss as a result of the minor's conduct shall receive restitution directly from that minor. Accordingly, section 730.6 subdivision (h) provides, in relevant part, that a restitution order "shall identify each victim . . . 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 . . . ." (Italics added.)

The juvenile court is vested with discretion to order restitution in a manner that will further the legislative objectives of making the victim whole, rehabilitating the minor, and deterring future delinquent behavior. (In re Brittany L. (2009) 99 Cal.App.4th1381 (Brittany L.).) The court may use any rational method in setting restitution, "provided it is reasonably calculated to make the victim whole, and provided it is consistent with the purpose of rehabilitation." (Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1391-1392, fn. omitted.) These purposes are "three-fold, to rehabilitate the defendant, deter future delinquent behavior, and make the victim whole by compensating him [or her] for his [or her] economic losses." (In re Anthony M. (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 1010, 1017.) " '[W]hile the amount of restitution cannot be arbitrary or capricious, "there is no requirement the restitution order be limited to the exact amount of the loss in which the [minor] is actually found culpable, nor is there any requirement the order reflect the amount of damages that might be recoverable in a civil action. . . ." ' " (Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at p. 1391, fn. omitted.)

The crux of M.A.'s argument here is that by receiving 168 hours of vacation time donated from her co-workers, Ms. Worku suffered no actual economic loss, and no restitution should have been ordered to compensate for that time.

Because the facts are not in dispute in this case, and the issue involves the interpretation of section 730.6, subdivision (a)(1), we are presented with a question of law which is subject to de novo review on appeal. (In re Eric S. (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1560, 1564.)

M.A.'s position in this case is similar to that in cases where insurance covers some or all of the victim's losses, and as a result, the victim suffers no actual economic loss for which restitution should be ordered. However, the law is clear that a victim's reimbursement through insurance coverage does not relieve a minor of the obligation to directly pay restitution to the victim for a loss caused by the minor's offense. (Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1383, 1389-90.)

This concept is comparable to the collateral source rule in tort cases, which precludes reduction in the amount of restitution even if the victim has received benefits or reimbursement from another source. (People v. Hamilton (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 932, 944.)

The same rationale should be applied here. Ms. Worku was required to take time off work to care for her son who was injured through M.A.'s criminal conduct, using her own accrued sick time, and when that was exhausted, the donated vacation time from her co-workers. If M.A. is not held financially responsible for this loss he caused, he will enjoy a windfall. A minor such as M.A., who engages in criminal conduct should not fortuitously benefit from having chosen a victim whose mother has co-workers who are kind enough to donate sick time. (See, e.g., Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1387-1389.)

Moreover, the restitution order here is proper as a means to rehabilitate the minor. As we have noted, there are three purposes of victim restitution in the juvenile context: to deter future criminality, to rehabilitate the minor, and to compensate the victim for losses incurred as a result of the juvenile's offense. (Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at p. 1387.) The trial court here specifically cited M.A.'s rehabilitation as an intended effect of the restitution order. M.A.'s rehabilitation is served by paying Ms. Worku for her lost wages, whether or not some of those wages were donated by co-workers.*fn3

We conclude that the restitution order including $10,192.56 for the use of 168 vacation hours was proper in this case. The court did not err, because the restitution order properly compensated Ms. Worku for the losses she sustained as a result of M.A.'s conduct, and serves a valid rehabilitative purpose as a condition of M.A.'s probation.

DISPOSITION

The order is affirmed.

WE CONCUR:

PREMO, J.

DUFFY, J.


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