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Name: People v. Ung (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 997
Case #: H049359
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/28/2023
Summary

Order for in-kind restitution in the form of cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency theft was neither an abuse of discretion nor a violation of due process. Ung pleaded no contest to multiple theft-related felonies for stealing significant amounts of cryptocurrency. The trial court ordered Ung to make restitution by “transferring cryptocurrencies to the victims in the same kinds and amounts he had stolen from them.” On appeal, Ung argued this was an abuse of discretion because the dollar value of the cryptocurrencies had increased ten-fold since he stole them, thus resulting in a windfall for the victims. Ung also argued that the order violated his due process rights because the “absence of a fixed timeframe for setting the dollar value of the restitution failed to give him sufficient notice of his liability.” Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 1202.4(f) provides that “restitution is required where the economic loss suffered by victims is a result of the defendant’s conduct.” “By stealing and taking control of the victims’ cryptocurrency, Ung deprived them of the ability to sell it for a profit after its value increased; whatever profits they lost were a direct consequence of Ung’s conduct.” In addition, the Court of Appeal held there was no due process violation because Ung (1) assumed the inherent risk of fluctuating values of cryptocurrencies and (2) proposed this form of restitution in his own restitution brief.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H049359.PDF