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Name: People v. Martinez
Case #: S219970
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/25/2017

Where a defendant was convicted only of leaving the scene of an injury accident, trial court was not authorized to order restitution for injuries resulting from the accident itself. Martinez pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an injury accident (Veh. Code, § 20001, subd. (a)). He was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $425,654.63 to the victim for injuries suffered in the accident. The Court of Appeal reversed the restitution award. The California Supreme Court granted review. Held: Affirmed. Where a defendant is convicted and sentenced to state prison, he must pay restitution directly to the victim for losses incurred “as a result of the commission of the offense” (Pen. Code, § 1202.4, subd. (a)(1)) in an amount sufficient to fully reimburse the victim for all economic losses (Pen. Code, § 1202.4, subd. (f)(3)). However, there must be a nexus between the victim’s losses and the defendant’s criminal conduct. Vehicle Code section 20001, subdivision (a) requires the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself, to stop at the scene, provide identification, render aid to the victim, and report the accident. Although an accident is a necessary predicate to the imposition of a duty to stop, a conviction under section 20001 does not require a showing that the fleeing driver was at fault for the accident. If restitution for accident-related injuries were allowed solely on proof a defendant fled the scene of an injury accident, that would mean that section 1202.4 allowed victim restitution even if the victim was solely responsible for the accident. This would serve no restitutionary purpose and could raise constitutional questions. “[T]he trial court was authorized to order restitution for those injuries that were caused or exacerbated by defendant’s criminal flight from the scene of the accident, but it was not authorized to award restitution for injuries resulting from the accident itself.” [Editor’s Note: The court disapproved People v. Rubrics (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 452 to the extent it is inconsistent with the court’s opinion in this case.]

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