Court San Bernardino County No. FMB1200197 Ct.App. 4/2
E057976 Daniel W. Detienne Judge.
E. Robertson, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for
Defendant and Appellant.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 ...