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Name: In re Tommy A.
Case #: D045115
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/19/2005

Restitution case: The 16-year old minor, without permission or a driver’s license, drove the car of Cardenas, one of his mother’s friends. He rear-ended another car and fled the scene. Cardenas’s insurance carrier paid the victim for her economic losses, and the victim signed a release of liability of the minor. The minor admitted a juvenile petition and was put on probation. He was ordered to pay victim restitution for $5126.76, the same amount covered by the victim’s insurance carrier. The appellate court affirmed the restitution order, finding that because the settlement payment by the insurer was a payment from a source completely distinct and independent from the minor, it did not relieve him of his victim restitution obligation under the statute. The release of liability did not relieve the minor of the obligation because the state’s legitimate interest in rehabilitating the minor and deterring him from future crimes is independent from the victim’s interest in compensation for her losses. Further, because the victim was not a party to the court’s plea bargain with the minor (which resulted in a plea to a lesser offense in return for an agreement to pay restitution) she could not release the minor from his court-ordered victim restitution obligation.