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Name: People v. Giordano
Case #: S138382
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 11/26/2007

Surviving spouse may receive direct restitution to include the amount of lost economic support. Appellant was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to state prison, as well as ordered to pay direct restitution to the wife of the deceased victim in the amount of $167,711, which reflected five years of his average annual earnings. The California Supreme Court granted review to consider whether Penal Code section 1202.4 authorizes the court to require a convicted defendant to compensate for future economic losses attributable to the death. The Court held that the trial court may include the loss of economic support in the amount a spouse would have earned. Further, the trial court here did not abuse its discretion when it calculated the amount of loss. In a strong dissent, Justice Kennard states that “the Legislature has established [two] other methods by which a surviving spouse may obtain restitution for loss of economic support resulting from a homicide victim’s death” in a civil wrongful death suit, or by application to the state Restitution Fund, rather than by a direct restitution order. “It seems more likely that the Legislature reasonably decided that the criminal sentencing process is ill suited to making the often exceptionally complex damage calculations that are required.”