California Cases Dealing With Penal Code Section 1202.4
In People v. Ferris (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 1272, the defendant was charged by two separate informations with crimes he committed on two different dates. (Id. at pp. 1275-1276) The People moved for joinder of the two cases or alternatively for consolidation. (Id. at p. 1276.)
The court granted that motion, although the subsequently filed informations and jury verdicts for each case continued to bear separate case numbers. (Ibid.) The cases were tried to a single jury in a single trial and presented for sentencing at the same time. (Ibid.)
At sentencing, the court imposed two $ 10,000 restitution fines. (Ibid.) Division One of this court struck the second $ 10,000 fine. (Id. at p. 1278.)
The court focused on the language of Penal Code section 1202.4 that the restitution fines apply "'in every case where a person is convicted of a crime.'" (Ferris, at p. 1277.)
The court concluded that this language was ambiguous where cases were separately filed, but joined together for trial and sentencing. (Ibid.)
Given this ambiguity, the court concluded that the construction favoring the defendant must apply, and only a single restitution fine could be imposed in a single case. (Ibid.)
Subsequent to Ferris, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District decided People v. Enos (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1046.
In that case, the defendant pleaded guilty to charges from three separate cases. (Id. at p. 1048.) The trial court imposed three separate restitution fines under Penal Code section 1202.4 in the total amount of $ 1,000 -- $ 600 in one case and $ 200 in the other two cases. (Enos, at p. 1048.)
The Enos court distinguished Ferris on two grounds.
The court first observed that there had never been a motion to join or consolidate the three Enos cases and that, although there was a "combined" sentencing hearing, the cases were not tried together, as they were in Ferris. Rather, the trial court and parties treated the three cases as separate throughout the proceedings, separate notices of appeal were filed, and separate appellate records were prepared before the three appeals were consolidated by the appellate court. (Enos, at p. 1049.)
Second, the court concluded the imposition of multiple restitution fines spread over several cases that cumulatively did not exceed the $ 10,000 statutory maximum could never constitute prejudicial error. (Id. at p. 1049.)
The court pointed out, "We think the Ferris court's primary concern was not with the trial court's imposition of more than one section 1202.4, subdivision (b) restitution fine and more than one suspended section 1202.45 parole revocation fine but rather with the resulting total of the fines that exceeded the $ 10,000 statutory limit. In our view Ferris stands for the proposition that a trial court cannot impose multiple section 1202.4, subdivision (b) restitution fines and multiple section 1202.45 parole revocation fines in nonconsolidated cases where the total fines exceed the statutory maximum; the opinion does not address the question whether separate fines are proper where the total does not exceed the statutory maximum." (Ibid.)
The court concluded:
"There is nothing in section 1202.4, subdivision (b) or section 1202.45 that prohibits multiple section 1202.4, subdivision (b) restitution fines and multiple section 1202.45 parole revocation fines in consolidated cases disposed of at a single sentencing hearing. To read these statutes as precluding separate fines that do not exceed the statutory maximum would result in a rule of law with no practical effect, because a defendant could never show prejudice. A trial court sentencing a defendant in consolidated cases would simply calculate the amount of the restitution fines as a whole instead of breaking them down separately for each case." (Ibid.)