California Landmark Cases on Juvenile Probation Restitution

A minor may be ordered to pay restitution as a condition of probation following a deferred entry of judgment. (Welfare & Institutions Code 794.) Welfare & Institutions Code Section 730.6 governs restitution in cases in which a minor is adjudicated a ward of the court under section 602. Section 730.6, subdivision (a)(1) provides that it "is the intent of the Legislature that a victim . . . who incurs any economic loss as a result of the minor's conduct shall receive restitution directly from that minor." Subdivision (h) provides in relevant part that "restitution . . . shall be imposed in the amount of the losses, as determined. . . . The court shall order full restitution . . . . A restitution order . . . shall identify each victim . . . and the amount of each victim's loss to which it pertains, and shall be of a dollar amount sufficient to fully reimburse the victim . . . for all determined economic losses incurred as the result of the minor's conduct . . . including . . . . (1) Full or partial payment of the value of stolen or damaged property. The value of stolen or damaged property shall be the replacement cost of like property, . . ." Section 730.6, subdivision (i) provides that a "restitution order . . . shall identify the losses to which it pertains, and shall be enforceable as a civil judgment . . . ." Juvenile court judges have broad discretion in fixing the amount of restitution, particularly when restitution is imposed as a condition of probation. (In re Christopher M. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 684, 692 court's discretion to establish conditions of probation in juvenile cases "'even broader than that of a criminal court'".) "The court may use any rational method of fixing the amount . . . , provided it is reasonably calculated to make the victim whole, and provided it is consistent with the purpose of rehabilitation." (In re Brittany L. (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 1381, 1391-1392 (Brittany L.).) "The purpose of an order for victim restitution is three-fold, to rehabilitate the defendant, deter future delinquent behavior, and make the victim whole by compensating him or her for his or her economic losses." (In re Anthony M. (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 1010, 1017.) And "'while the amount of restitution cannot be arbitrary or capricious, "there is no requirement the restitution order be limited to the exact amount of the loss in which the minor is actually found culpable, nor is there any requirement the order reflect the amount of damages that may be recoverable in a civil action . . . ."'" (Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at p. 1391.) Moreover, a victim's right to restitution is to be "'broadly and liberally construed.'" (In re Johnny M. (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 1128, 1132 (Johnny M.).) In calculating restitution, the trial court is "'"'given virtually unlimited discretion as to the kind of information it can consider and the source from whence it comes'"'" (Brittany L., supra, 99 Cal.App.4th at p. 1392.) "The trial court is entitled to consider the probation report when determining the amount of restitution. . . . . . . When the probation report includes information on the amount of the victim's loss and a recommendation as to the amount of restitution, the minor must come forward with contrary information to challenge that amount." (People v. Foster (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 939, 946-947; People v. Keichler (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1048.) And "when an owner of stolen personal property testifies as to its value at a restitution hearing, his or her testimony constitutes prima facie evidence of value. The burden then shifts to the minor to demonstrate that the proffered value is erroneous." (People v. Prosser (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 682, 684-685.) An appellate court reviews the court's findings imposing direct victim restitution for abuse of discretion. (People v. Mearns (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 493, 498.) "'"When there is a factual and rational basis for the amount of restitution ordered by the trial court, no abuse of discretion will be found."'" (Johnny M., supra, 100 Cal.App.4th at p. 1132; accord, People v. Maheshwari (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 1406, 1409 reviewing court "will not disturb the trial court's determination of restitution unless it is arbitrary, capricious and exceeds the bounds of reason".) "In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a restitution award, the '"power of the appellate court begins and ends with a determination as to whether there is any substantial evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted," to support the trial court's findings.' Further, the standard of proof at a restitution hearing is by a preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 'If the circumstances reasonably justify the trial court's findings,' the judgment may not be overturned when the circumstances might also reasonably support a contrary finding. We do not reweigh or reinterpret the evidence; rather, we determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the inference drawn by the trier of fact." (People v. Baker (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 463, 468-469.)