Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Martinez

Supreme Court of California

May 25, 2017

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
DENNIS TERRY MARTINEZ, Defendant and Appellant.

         Superior Court San Bernardino County No. FMB1200197 Ct.App. 4/2 E057976 Daniel W. Detienne Judge.

          Thomas E. Robertson, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Kamala D. Harris and Xavier Becerra, Attorneys General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Steven T. Oetting, Deputy State Solicitor General, Melissa Mandel, Meredith S. White, Lise S. Jacobson and Michael Pulos, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          Kruger, J.

         After defendant Dennis Terry Martinez pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an injury accident in violation of Vehicle Code section 20001, subdivision (a) (Vehicle Code section 20001(a), commonly known as “hit and run”), the trial court sentenced him to three years in state prison. The trial court further ordered him to pay $425, 654.63 to the victim as restitution for injuries suffered as a result of the accident. Defendant contends, and the Court of Appeal agreed, that the trial court erred in fixing the amount of restitution. We agree as well.

         Where, as here, a criminal defendant is convicted and sentenced to state prison, section 1202.4 of the Penal Code (section 1202.4) provides that the defendant must pay restitution directly to the victim for losses incurred “as a result of the commission of a crime.” (§ 1202.4, subd. (a)(1); see People v. Giordano (2007) 42 Cal.4th 644, 651-652 (Giordano).) “To the extent possible, ” direct victim restitution is to be ordered in an amount “sufficient to fully reimburse the victim or victims for every determined economic loss incurred as the result of the defendant's criminal conduct.” (§ 1202.4, subd. (f)(3).) Application of these provisions depends on the relationship between the victim's loss and the defendant's crime. Here, defendant's crime was not being involved in a traffic accident, nor does his conviction imply that he was at fault in the accident. Defendant's crime, rather, was leaving the scene of the accident without presenting identification or rendering aid. Thus, under section 1202.4, the trial court was authorized to order restitution for those injuries that were caused or exacerbated by defendant's criminal flight from the scene of the accident, but it was not authorized to award restitution for injuries resulting from the accident itself.

         I.

         Defendant was driving his pickup truck during the early evening of April 26, 2012, when he was involved in a collision with a 12-year-old boy riding on a scooter. Defendant stopped his truck and checked on the boy, who had been seriously injured in the accident. The victim's mother rushed to the scene. When she arrived, defendant returned to his truck. Defendant later told police that he waited there until he saw the boy loaded into an ambulance, then drove off. At the time of the accident, defendant was unlicensed and on felony probation. He told officers that he left the scene because he was afraid that he had violated his probation by driving without a license.

         The victim sustained multiple facial fractures and a fractured clavicle and was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. He was hospitalized in intensive care for nine days before being transferred to a rehabilitation center.

         Police ultimately identified the vehicle involved in the accident and traced the vehicle to defendant, at which point defendant came forward. In an interview with police, defendant admitted to his involvement in the accident and that he left the scene. Defendant reported that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident; he stated that he had used medical grade marijuana at 8:00 a.m. on the day of the accident but that its effects had worn off by 11:00 a.m., approximately seven and a half hours before the accident. Defendant apologized and told officers that he understood he had committed a crime by fleeing the scene.

         Defendant was charged with one felony count of leaving the scene of an injury accident. (Veh. Code, § 20001(a).) He pleaded guilty and the trial court sentenced him to a three-year term of imprisonment with 192 days of credit for time served and good conduct. The parties stipulated that the felony complaint and police report would provide a factual basis for the plea. At the sentencing hearing, the victim's mother stated that her son had collided with the truck and that the collision was an accident. Defendant reported that the victim hit defendant's vehicle when the victim failed to stop on his scooter. The trial court made no findings concerning defendant's responsibility for the accident.

         Several months after sentencing, the trial court considered whether defendant could be ordered to pay restitution for the medical costs that the victim incurred as a result of the accident. The trial court answered that question in the affirmative, relying on People v. Rubics (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 452 (Rubics). In Rubics, the Court of Appeal upheld a direct restitution award of $44, 414 in funeral expenses against a defendant convicted of leaving the scene of the accident that resulted in the victim's death. Echoing the reasoning of Rubics, the trial court ruled that the victim in this case was entitled to restitution for losses incurred as a result of the accident because “even if it was just a pure accident, ” involvement in an accident “is still an element of the crime.” Following the trial court's ruling, the parties entered into a stipulated agreement fixing $425, 654.63 - the amount of the victim's bill for his stay in intensive care - as the amount of direct victim restitution.

         The Court of Appeal reversed the restitution order. It concluded that the trial court erred because “ ‘[t]he gravamen of a section 20001 offense... is not the initial injury of the victim, but leaving the scene without presenting identification or rendering aid.' ” (Quoting People v. Escobar (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1504, 1509 (Escobar).) The court disagreed with Rubics, which it characterized as “an anomaly in an otherwise ‘unbroken line of cases stretching back more than 50 years' ” that have characterized the offense in the same manner. (Quoting People v. Valdez (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 82, 89 (Valdez).) The court concluded that the trial court lacked the power to order restitution for injuries caused by the accident itself because “defendant was not convicted for any offense involving responsibility for the actual accident and no factual determination of his responsibility for the collision or the victim's injuries ha[d] been made.” The court remanded the matter to permit the People to seek restitution for any losses caused or exacerbated by defendant's flight.

         We granted review to resolve the conflict about whether, in imposing a sentence for a violation of Vehicle Code section 20001(a), a trial court may order direct restitution for injuries the victim ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.