Probation Restitution Cases In California

In People v. Lent (1975) 15 Cal.3d 481, the restitution award was based on the victim's total loss, of $ 1,778, even though the defendant had been acquitted of the theft count that represented $ 1,278 of the total. Lent agreed the defendant could be held responsible for both amounts because, during a lengthy probation hearing, the trial court had taken additional testimony and concluded the defendant had perjured himself at trial and was, in fact, responsible for all of the victim's losses. (People v. Lent, supra, 15 Cal.3d at p. 487.) In People v. Carbajal (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1114, the defendant was convicted of hit-and-run after colliding with a parked car. Hence, the defendant had undoubtedly caused the car owner's property damage, even though "in the context of the hit-and-run statute, the restitution condition may relate to conduct that is not in itself necessarily criminal, i.e., the probationer's driving at the time of the accident." (People v. Carbajal, supra, 10 Cal.4th at p. 1123.) People v. Leon (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 620, involved checks that had been stolen from the victim. Defendant Leon and codefendant Garza were each convicted of grand theft and passing forged checks. Leon had cashed one stolen check in the amount of $ 2,450, and Garza had cashed three stolen checks in the amount of $ 11,000. Overruling a probation department recommendation that Leon be ordered to pay the victim $ 2,450 in restitution, the trial court found Leon had been "'part and parcel of what was occurring'" and ordered him to pay $ 13,450 jointly and severally with Garza. But Leon had been sentenced to prison and, therefore, the court of appeal reversed: "Because $ 11,000 of the victim's loss resulted from the crimes of Garza, not Leon, and nothing in the record suggests that Leon aided and abetted commission of Garza's crimes, the trial court was not authorized . . . to order Leon to pay restitution for a crime he did not commit." (Id. at p. 622.)