P. v. NonakaAnnotate this Case
The People of the State of California (People), appealed the denial of the motion for victim restitution, i.e., attorney fees and costs after Respondent was convicted by plea of felony driving with a .08 blood alcohol level or higher causing bodily injury. the denial of the motion for victim restitution, i.e., attorney fees and costs, after Respondent was convicted by plea of felony driving with a .08 blood alcohol level or higher causing bodily injury release of liability signed by the victim in the civil case discharged respondent’s obligation to pay restitution in the criminal case.
The Second Appellate District agreed with the People and reversed. Here, the People presented evidence that the injured driver received a civil settlement of $235,000. Of the settlement, $61,574.44 was paid to the driver’s attorney as a contingency fee of 25 percent plus costs. Respondent did not present any witnesses or evidence in opposition. Instead, he argued the signed releases by the victims meant they “ha[d] received full and complete compensation,” and the contingency fee was “not a true amount of attorney’s fees.” However, “[a] crime victim who seeks redress for his injuries in a civil suit can expect to pay counsel with a contingency fee.” Because the People established that the driver paid her attorney a contingency fee of 25 percent, the burden shifted to Respondent to refute this showing. Respondent contends the trial court’s denial of fees was an “implied finding”. But an implied finding of fact must be supported by substantial evidence.