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Name: People v. Tarris
Case #: E046290
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/21/2009

There was sufficient evidence to uphold convictions for disposal and transport of hazardous waste. After being cited for code violations, appellant evicted some tenants who lived in a motor home on his undeveloped land. One of the tenants kept containers of chemicals and paint on metal shelves outside the motor home. The tenant intended to sell, use or give away the items. Near the time of the eviction, county road crews were working in the area, and appellant asked if they were going to be cleaning debris on the street. The crew chief said only debris on county property would be cleared. Appellant removed the tenants’ property including the hazardous material onto the street in hopes that the crew would haul it away. Appellant was convicted of unlawful disposal of hazardous waste (Health & Saf. Code, § 25189.5, subd. (b)), and unlawfully transporting hazardous waste (Health & Saf. Code, § 25189.5, subd. (c)). Appellant made a sufficiency of evidence challenge, claiming the items he removed were not “waste” because the tenant had intended to keep and use them, and because the items could not be considered waste until after they were discarded. The appellate court rejected the argument. A jury could reasonably conclude that appellant considered the property trash when he loaded it onto his bobcat and dumped it in the street. “As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
The court did not err in ordering appellant, as a condition of probation, to reimburse the county for the costs of investigating the offenses. The court suspended imposition of sentence, placed appellant on probation, and as a condition of probation ordered restitution to the Riverside County Departments of Environmental Health and Transportation for the costs of investigating the offenses. Appellant argued reimbursement for costs of investigation was improper. The court found a defendant can be held responsible for those costs if they are ordered as a condition of probation because there is broader discretion under section 1203.1 than under the regular restitution statute. (Distinguishing People v. Baker (1974) 39 Cal.App.3d 550; People v. Torres (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 1.)
One of the Health and Safety Code section 25189.5, subdivision (e) fines had to be stayed per Penal Code section 654. Appellant challenged imposition of one of the two Health and Safety Code section 25189.5 fines because the two offenses were committed with a single intent and objective of illegally dumping the trash. Respondent countered that section 654 was inapplicable because imposition of sentence had been suspended. The court agreed the Health and Safety Code fine is a form of punishment, and stayed one of the fines.