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Name: People v. Hudson
Case #: A100928
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 11/26/2003
Subsequent History: None

A county welfare agency is entitled to victim restitution in cases of welfare fraud, but may not recover an amount in excess of the loss caused by the defendant’s fraud. The defendant was convicted of welfare fraud after she failed to report all income while receiving AFDC, food stamps, and other benefits, resulting in an overpayment of about $7,000. The court ordered victim restitution to the county department of social services as a condition of her probation, but the parties disputed the calculation of the department’s loss. Normally, in cases not involving fraud, department policy allowed beneficiaries to disregard up to twenty percent of their income in applying for benefits, but the department failed to include the twenty-percent disregard in its calculation of overpayment. After the department refused to comply with a court directive to recalculate its loss, the sentencing court declined to order any victim restitution at all. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that while the sentencing court had properly ordered the department to recalculate its loss to avoid granting the victim a windfall, victim restitution is mandatory under Penal Code section 1202.4, so remand was required to determine the proper amount of restitution.