California Landmark Cases on Victim Restitution

"The scope of the trial court's authority with respect to victim restitution depends on whether the restitution is ordered pursuant to section 1202.4 or as a condition of probation pursuant to section 1203.1. 'Under section 1203.1, "California courts have long interpreted the trial courts' discretion to encompass the ordering of restitution as a condition of probation even when the loss was not necessarily caused by the criminal conduct underlying the conviction." .' In contrast, section 1202.4 provides: 'It is the intent of the Legislature that a victim of crime who incurs an economic loss as a result of the commission of a crime shall receive restitution directly from a defendant convicted of that crime.' ( 1202.4, subd. (a)(1).) Accordingly, 'when a court imposes a prison sentence following trial, section 1202.4 limits the scope of victim restitution to losses caused by the criminal conduct for which the defendant sustained the conviction.' . As our Supreme Court has explained: 'When section 1202.4 imposes its mandatory requirements in favor of a victim's right to restitution, the statute is explicit and narrow. When section 1203.1 provides the court with discretion to achieve a defendant's reformation, its ambit is necessarily broader, allowing a sentencing court the flexibility to encourage a defendant's reformation as the circumstances of his or her case require.' ." (People v. Rahbari (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 185, 190.) "The burden is on the party seeking restitution to provide an adequate factual basis for the claim." (People v. Giordano (2007) 42 Cal.4th 644, 664.) We review the trial court's restitution order for abuse of discretion. (Id. at p. 663.) "No abuse of discretion will be found where there is a rational and factual basis for the amount of restitution ordered." (People v. Gemelli (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1539, 1542.) The trial court must order "direct victim" restitution "in 'every case in which a victim has suffered economic loss as a result of the defendant's conduct.' (Pen. Code, 1202.4, subd. (f); see also 1202.4, subd. (a)(1).)" (People v. Maheshwari (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 1406, 1409.) The word "victim" is specifically defined as a "direct victim of a crime." ( 1202.4, subd. (k)(2), ) But where restitution is ordered as a condition of probation, the imposition of restitution is governed by section 1203.1, which gives courts broad general discretion to fashion and impose conditions of probation. (People v. Anderson (2010) 50 Cal.4th 19, 28-29.) Penal Code Under section 1203.1, the court may impose upon probationers "reasonable conditions, as it may determine are fitting and proper to the end that justice may be done, that amends may be made to society for the breach of the law, for any injury done to any person resulting from that breach, and generally and specifically for the reformation and rehabilitation of the probationer . . . ." ( 1203.1, subd. (j).) Penal Code Section 1203.1 does not define "victim," and the "direct victim" requirement of section 1202.4 do not apply to restitution ordered as a condition of probation. (People v. Anderson, supra, 50 Cal.4th at pp. 29-31.) Moreover, courts ordering restitution as a condition of probation may do so even when the loss was not necessarily caused by the criminal conduct underlying the conviction and "there is no requirement the restitution order be limited to the exact amount of the loss in which the defendant is actually found culpable . . . ." (Id. at p. 27.)