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Name: People v. Littlefield
Case #: B280646
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/28/2018

Trial court did not have jurisdiction to vacate a valid restitution order where restitution had not been collected for many years and the defendant had completed his sentence. In 2000, Littlefield was ordered to pay victim restitution following his guilty plea to one count of forgery. In 2016, he moved in pro per to vacate the restitution order under the doctrine of laches after he received a debt collection letter from the Franchise Tax Board. He asserted the collection of the debt now, after the failure to make any efforts to collect the debt before, would be a significant hardship. The trial court dismissed the motion, concluding it did not have jurisdiction to consider it. Littlefield appealed. Held: Appeal dismissed. Generally, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to resentence a criminal defendant after execution of sentence has begun, subject to limited exceptions that did not apply in this case. The Court of Appeal here disagreed with Littlefield’s argument that the trial court had jurisdiction to vacate his criminal restitution order pursuant to Penal Code sections 1202.46 and 1214. Section 1202.46 provides that a trial court retains jurisdiction over a person subject to a restitution order for the purpose of imposing or modifying restitution until the losses may be determined. In this case the losses were determined at Littlefield’s sentencing and there was no need to continue jurisdiction. Additionally, under section 1202.46 only a victim, the district attorney, or the court may move to correct a sentence that omits a restitution order. Section 1214 also does not provide a basis for a defendant to avoid a restitution obligation—it “merely enumerates tools available to a victim to enforce a criminal restitution obligation.”

Because the trial court lacked jurisdiction to vacate defendant’s victim restitution order, the order denying his motion to vacate this obligation was nonappealable. Penal Code section 1237, subdivision (b) authorizes an appeal in a criminal case “[f]rom any order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the party.” Because the trial court lacked jurisdiction to vacate the defendant’s victim restitution order, the order denying his motion to vacate that obligation did not affect his substantial rights and was thus non-appealable. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal.

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