Monday, July 7, 2014

California Court Rules Hit and Run Driver Not Responsible For Restitution

California has some of the toughest laws on hit and run and DUI, for example in Torrance a conviction may land you in Jail for a long spell.  With that being said, occasionally the Court comes down with a decision that makes sense when viewed from a legal standpoint.

In this case, the defendant pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident , commonly referred to as hit and run, and admitted a probation violation in return for a three-year sentence with a concurrent term for the probation violation. The plea was based on evidence that defendant fled after the 12-year-old victim, who was riding on a scooter, collided with his vehicle in the street. The court sentenced the scofflaw  to the three-year term. After a hearing, the court ordered victim restitution of $425,654.63, yes that is correct nearly a half million daollars, following People v. Rubics (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 452, which held that a defendant fleeing the scene of an accident can be ordered to pay restitution for costs incurred by the victim as a result of a collision.

However, On appeal, the defendant named Martinez claimed the court abused its discretion by imposing restitution for injuries sustained by the victim because he did not plead to any criminal offense regarding the collision that caused those injuries, and there was no factual determination made that he was responsible for the accident. The Court threw out the restitution.. When a defendant is sentenced to prison for a hit-and-run offense, restitution is proper only to the extent that the victim's injuries are caused or exacerbated by the offender's flight from the scene. There was no evidence here that Martinez's flight caused or exacerbated the victim's injuries. Rubics is factually distinguishable from this case, and to the extent that it is not, the court disagreed with its holding. Although Martinez executed a Harvey waiver, there were no other charges in the felony complaint that incorporated any type of criminal culpability for the collision. On remand, the prosecutor may prove that the victim's injuries were exacerbated by Martinez's flight. (CCAP)

This case, though not per se a DUI case, has many angry.