Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Requirement for Full Restitution in Califonia

It is considered a truism in restitution that the trial court has a great deal of latitude in determining how much restitution to order for a victim.  This translates into a wide range of discretion - which ties into the standard on appeal of abuse of discretion.  That rule may be true for some aspects of victim restitution, but it is not the rule for all aspects.  Once a victim has provided the court with a rational basis for restitution and shown what full restitution is, the court is required to order full restitution unless there are “compelling and extraordinary reasons” for not doing so. This is the standard under Penal Code  §1202.4(g) as well as an appellate decision:

"A sentence without an award of victim restitution is invalid. A trial court has no discretion over the issuance of the award itself and really very little discretion over the amount of the award. The statute requires the award be set in an amount which will fully reimburse the victim for his or her losses unless there are clear and compelling reasons not to do so. A court's reasons for awarding less than full restitution must be stated on the record. Thus, just as a sentence lacking a victim restitution award is invalid, a sentence awarding less than full victim restitution is similarly unauthorized when the court fails to state clear and compelling reasons for its decision."

People v. Brown (2007) 147 Cal. App.4th 1213, 1226 (citations, quotations and footnote omitted).

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