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Name: People v. Fulton
Case #: D036550
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/12/2003
Subsequent History: None

Fulton pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, causing injury. He was granted probation, and ordered to pay victim restitution, including $25,000 in attorney fees the victim incurred in pursuing a personal injury action against Fulton. On appeal, he argued that the amount of attorney fees was improper because a portion of that award reflected attorney services incurred to recover noneconomic damages (i.e. pain and suffering.) The appellate court affirmed. Under the plain meaning and express purpose of Penal Code section 1202.4, subd. (F)(3)(H), actual and reasonable attorney fees incurred by a victim as a result of the defendant’s criminal conduct are recoverable as restitution, but they are limited to fees incurred to collect restitution otherwise permitted under the statute. However, that does not mean a victim is prohibited from recovering fees if those fees were incurred to recover both economic and noneconomic losses. Where the fees cannot be reasonably divided between the pursuit of economic and noneconomic losses, the victim is entitled to be fully reimbursed for all actual and reasonable attorney fees. Here, given the extent of the injuries, which were caused by Fulton, and the necessity for litigation in order to be fully compensated, the amount of restitution was reasonable.