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Name: People v. Pittman (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 1252
Case #: A166669
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/27/2024

The trial court may rely on a victim estimate included in a police or restitution report when determining the amount of restitution to be awarded. Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree burglary. At the restitution hearing, the court ordered defendant to pay a total of $6,700 in restitution, consisting of $150 for a safe and $6,550 for various items of jewelry. The values of the items were based on what the victims had provided in the police report. This amount differed from what they later claimed on their restitution report. Defendant appealed. Held: Affirmed. The value of stolen or damaged property shall be the replacement cost of like property, or the actual cost of repairing the property when repair is possible. (§ 1202.4(f)(3)(A).) The victim must make a prima facie showing of the loss, which the defendant is entitled to rebut. The Court of Appeal held, contrary to its prior holding in People v. Harvest (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 641, that depending on the circumstances and as a matter of discretion, a trial court may find a victim estimate is sufficient to make a prima facie showing of loss, subject to rebuttal by the defendant. Here, the trial court relied on victim estimates contained in a police report, as well as in the restitution forms that were submitted later. Although the trial court ultimately selected the lower estimates in the police report in setting the amount of restitution, it could also consider the restitution forms and any information they contained about the items taken and their estimated values. Since these documents were not included in the appellate record, the Court of Appeal could not conclude that the trial court abused its discretion based on any supposed deficiency in the documents.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to award restitution for damage to the victims’ home where such damage was not supported by an invoice for the repair amount.  In declining to award restitution for damage to a bathroom floor and vanity amounting to $5,500 (see § 1202.4(f)(3)(A)), the trial court differentiated the types of evidence it would expect to see in support of the stolen jewelry on the one hand, and the damage to the floor on the other. It pointed out that the jewelry was from 45 years of marriage and may not be supported by receipts while the bathroom floor repairs are more recent and should be supported by an invoice. This was not an arbitrary or irrational decision.