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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: C063113
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/11/2010

Although a trial court has broad discretion to choose a method for calculating the amount of restitution, it must employ a method that is rationally designed to determine the victim’s economic loss, and make a clear statement of the calculation method used. Appellant was granted probation following his no contest plea to felony driving under the influence. A second charge of hit and run was dismissed with a Harvey waiver (People v. Harvey (1979) 25 Cal.3d 754). As a condition of probation, per Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (f), appellant was ordered to pay restitution to the victim of the hit and run. At a hearing to determine the amount of restitution, the victim of the hit and run submitted a list of various expenses, including repairs to the damaged property, wages for a substitute employee while the victim was in court, living expenses, and damage caused to her car when she went to court for the restitution hearing and hit an object in the parking lot. The court ordered restitution but did not explain the calculation it used to reach the figure imposed. Without an explanation, the appellate court could not assess the validity of the order. (See People v. Giordano (2007) 42 Cal.4th 644.) As such, it found that the failure to clearly explain the calculation method was an abuse of discretion and remanded with direction to the trial court to make a proper order on the record. In addressing the claimed loss for damage to the car in the parking lot, the court noted that in dealing with such a claimed loss, principles in determining proximate causation would apply. If an intervening cause is a normal and reasonably foreseeable result of defendant’s original act, the intervening act is a dependent and not superseding cause of the damage and will not relieve defendant of liability. Here, because of the trial court’s failure to explain its restitution calculation order, whether appellant was liable for damage the victim incurred in the parking lot could not be addressed in the instant opinion.