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Name: In re Ashlie M.
Case #: C058043
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/29/2009
Summary

Restitution imposed by the juvenile court as a condition of probation is justified by a finding that appellant’s conduct was a substantial cause of loss. The minor was adjudicated a ward of the juvenile court following her admission to one count of misdemeanor driving without a valid license (Veh. Code, sec. 12500, subd. (a)), and a factual finding by the court. According to the evidence heard by the court, the minor, then a high school student, was driving home alone from work at approximately 9:00 p.m. She had a learner’s permit but was not licensed to drive. En route, she hit a pedestrian who died of his injuries. An investigating California Highway Patrol officer testified that the pedestrian’s behavior was a factor in the accident as he was wearing dark clothing, walking in the roadway, and walking with traffic rather than against the flow. The officer also testified that minor’s lack of familiarity with the roadway, lack of street lighting, and minor’s speed (37 in a 35 mile per hour zone) contributed to the accident. Noting that the purpose of section 12500 is to keep inexperienced drivers off the road, the juvenile court found the minor, “at the very least,” to be a substantial factor in the accident and, as a condition of probation, ordered her to pay restitution for burial/cremation costs. The appellate court rejected appellant’s claim that the order was an abuse of discretion and a constitutional violation of minor’s right to due process. Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6, subdivision (a) holds that a victim shall receive restitution from a minor whose conduct has resulted in the victim’s loss, but it does not require the conduct to be the sole cause of loss. Here, the trial court’s finding that minor’s conduct was a substantial factor in victim’s death justified the restitution order.