Articles Tagged with pay-for-damages

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In a recent juvenile delinquency case, a minor stole a car and damaged it beyond repair, rendering it a total loss for insurance purposes. After admitting to the crime, the juvenile court granted Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ), meaning that the case would be dismissed provided the minor complete the terms of probation, which in this case included restitution, or paying the owner of the car for damages.

The court ordered the minor pay $13,000 in damages to the car owner, along with $2,000 in interest on the car loan as part of this restitution. After the criminal defense attorney filed an appeal to challenge the $2,000 interest portion, the court surprisingly denied the appeal. The reason it was denied was because there is no way to appeal a DEJ order, and the restitution is considered part of it.

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In Orange County (and all of California), crime victims with damaged or destroyed property are entitled to restitution. Criminal restitution requires that the defendant in a criminal case pay for the victim’s damages- he must replace or repair damaged property, pay for counseling, if necessary, and pay direct damages like medical bills that resulted from the criminal act.

Patricia Short-Lyster is one such victim. Around 2008, she bought a 1975 Dodge Adventurer pickup truck. Her father, a former auto mechanic, encouraged her to buy it because it was in excellent condition. In 2009, Leroy Stanley vandalized Short-Lyster’s truck so badly that the driver’s side door of the vehicle could no longer be opened. Stanley was arrested and pled “no contest” to the charges. (Pleading “no contest” allows a defendant to avoid having the conviction used against him in a subsequent civil trial).

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Restitution has been an issue in two cases this week. Briefly, when one person is convicted of committing a crime against another, he is liable for “restitution” or payment for the damages caused by that crime. In a theft case, this means he must repay what he is accused of stealing and any affiliated costs, like replacement goods. In an assault and battery case, he must pay for doctors bills. In a hit and run, he must pay for damages to the other car.

In the Orange County criminal courts, especially the Harbor Justice Center, restitution is handled in one of two ways. It is either spelled out as an exact dollar amount at the time of the plea bargain or “to be determined”. When restitution is “to be determined”, the criminal case file is handed over to the Orange County criminal court’s Victim Witness office, which then contacts the victim and asks them to list the damages that they suffered.

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