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Name: People v. Brown
Case #: A111490
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 02/22/2007

The trial court violated the terms of the plea agreement when it significantly deviated from the agreed-upon victim restitution. Appellant entered a plea to assault with a deadly weapon and agreed to pay restitution for “any out-of-pocket expenses, if any” incurred by the victim. These costs were roughly $200; but at sentencing, the court said it had no discretion but to impose $34,000 in restitution which included hospital costs incurred by the Victim Compensation Board. Appellant challenged the award, arguing she was entitled to either specific performance or the opportunity to withdraw her plea. The appellate court agreed this was a violation of the agreement because the restitution order was significantly more than that agreed upon by the parties. A certificate of probable cause was not necessary because this was not an attack on the validity of the plea. Rather, the claim was that the court violated the terms of the plea agreement. However, specific performance is not an available remedy because a trial court has no discretion on whether to order victim restitution and very little discretion over the amount. Rather, appellant is permitted to withdraw her plea. If she does so, the trial court should consider whether there are compelling and extraordinary reasons to justify reduced restitution.