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Name: People v. Erickson
Case #: B288448
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 12/17/2018

Trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered defendant to pay restitution for the full value of copper wire that he stole and allowed the victim to retain portions of the wire that it could no longer use. Erickson stole 520 feet of copper wire from a winery. Police recovered two pieces (264 feet and 32 feet long), which were returned to the winery. However, the wire was no longer useable at the winery. Following his guilty plea to grand theft, the trial court ordered Erickson to pay restitution for the full cost to replace the 520 feet of copper wire he stole from the winery. On appeal, Erickson argued the trial court erred when it ordered him to pay the full value of the wire and allowed the winery to retain some of the wire recovered by police. Held: Affirmed. In People v. Chappelone (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1159A, the court determined that a victim is not entitled to restitution for the value of property that was returned, except to the extent that there is some loss of value to the property. Erickson wanted the winery to sell the wire it could not use and give him a credit, or return the wire to him, so he could defray some of the restitution he was ordered to pay. The Court of Appeal here concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered restitution for the full value of the wire. The trial court considered Chappelone, which had unusual facts, and made a reasoned decision why Chappelone did not compel the result Erickson urged, finding there is a distinction between disallowing a victim to overprice the value of what is stolen and foisting upon the victim the burden of returning to the defendant property that is of no value to the victim, but could be of value to the defendant. “To read Chappelone as requiring the court to grant all defendants in all circumstances a partial reward for their wrongdoing perverts a basic tenant of our system of justice: A wrongdoer should not profit from his or her wrongdoing. The criminal law does not contemplate a reward for criminal behavior.” [Editor’s Note: The dissenting justice would have remanded for a hearing to determine whether and to what extent the wire returned to the victim had value in the open market, and deduct that amount, if any, from the restitution order.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: