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Name: People v. Soria
Case #: S164796
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/11/2010

Unconsolidated cases jointly resolved in one plea bargain remain separate actions for purposes of the restitution fine statute (Pen. Code, § 1202.4) and parole revocation fine statute (Pen. Code, § 1202.45). Over the course of three weeks, the district attorney filed three criminal cases against appellant. Appellant negotiated pleas in all three cases for a specified total maximum sentence. At the time of the plea on the three cases, the court advised appellant he was “subject to a restitution fund fine of not less than $200 nor more than $10,000 as to each case.” At sentencing, the court imposed a $10,000 fine in one case, a $400 fine in the second, and a $200 fine in the last case. Appellant argued on appeal that imposition of separate fines in each case was unauthorized. After the Court of Appeal struck the separate fines, the Supreme Court granted review. The Court analyzed the language of section 1202.4, which mandates imposition of a “separate and additional restitution fine” “[i]n every cases where a person is convicted of a crime.” It held that in the context of the statute, “a ‘case’ is a formal criminal proceeding, filed by the prosecution and handled by the court as a separate action with its own number.” Because there was no motion to consolidate, here there was one plea bargain, but multiple cases. This interpretation is consistent with the legislative purpose of the statutory scheme, which was to recoup costs of providing restitution to victims of crimes.