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Luis M v. the Superior Court of Los Angeles County

October 31, 2012

LUIS M., PETITIONER,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, RESPONDENT; THE PEOPLE, REAL PARTY IN INTEREST.



ORIGINAL PROCEEDING; petition for writ of mandate. Benny C. Osorio, Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. MJ20593)

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Petition granted.

INTRODUCTION

Luis M. petitions this court for a writ of mandate compelling the Superior Court to vacate its November 17, 2011 order, requiring him to pay restitution in the amount of $3,881.88 to the City of Lancaster and to conduct a hearing to determine the actual amount of economic loss caused by his vandalism and to order restitution in that amount. We agree that the restitution award was erroneous and grant the petition.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURL BACKGROUND

On May 19, 2011, a petition was filed under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 alleging that Luis committed vandalism resulting in damage over $400 in violation of Penal Code section 594, subdivision (a), by placing graffiti on walls, signs, electrical boxes, and metal boxes belonging to the Clear Skies Mobile Home Park and the City of Lancaster (City). On July 14, Luis admitted the charge. The juvenile court found the petition true but did not sustain the petition. It placed Luis on deferred entry of judgment probation for 12 to 36 months pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 790.

The court held a restitution hearing on November 17. At the hearing, Marleen Navarro (Navarro), Crime Prevention Officer for the City, testified that one of her duties was to calculate the cost of graffiti cleanup in order to determine restitution. In making that determination, the City used a restitution model which was created using figures from 2006.

Navarro testified that the City's restitution model had a number of components: (1) the labor cost for public works personnel who clean up the graffiti and for the sheriff's deputy who investigates the graffiti call; (2) the equipment cost for the vehicles, sprayers and other equipment used for graffiti abatement; (3) the materials cost for paint and cleaning supplies used in graffiti cleanup; (4) the cost of contract services for tracking graffiti; and (5) traffic control and risk management costs.

For 2006, the cost of all components was $1,380,208. The average number of calls regarding graffiti per year is 3,200. Using these figures, Navarro calculated the cost per graffiti incident to be $431.32.

In reviewing the vandalism report resulting from Luis's tagging, Navarro noted there were nine incidents of vandalism at six different locations, involving electrical boxes and traffic signs. She calculated the cost for cleanup to be $3,881.88.

On cross-examination, Navarro testified as to what costs were included in the components. She acknowledged that she did not know the particular costs incurred in the cleanup of Luis's tagging.

The court accepted the People's argument that it was appropriate to calculate restitution using the City's restitution model. It ordered ...


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