Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Re Alexander A. (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 10, 2011)

A juvenile vandalized a 1992 Honda Accord LX.  At the time of the restitution hearing, there's that exact model for sale on Craigslist for $1,795.  And that's the asking price.  For the whole entire car.

The average nondealer purchase price for that vehicle in good condition is $2,605.  If it's in awesome condition (yeah, right; remember, it's a 1992 Honda), maybe you could get $4,205.  The highest price that anyone can make up for a brand new 1992 Honda Accord LX is $5,300.  In short, to get a totally pristine new vehicle to completely replace your vandalized car would be, at most, $5,300.  And getting a totally new entire vehicle that was like the one the kid vandalized would probably run you around $2,000.

But the owner of the car gets an "estimate" to "repair" the vehicle that's for over $8,200.  So that's what the trial court orders in restitution.  And requires the kid's parents (not just the kid) to pay this amount.  Despite the fact that a totally new car would cost less than this, and despite the fact that the owner admits that he has no intention of actually getting the car repaired.  Which would, after all, be economically irrational.

The kid (and his parents) appeal.  And the Court of Appeal holds, yep, that's a totally fine restitution order.  It doesn't at all result in a "windfall" to the victim.  Even though he's getting over $8200 for a vandalized car that was probably worth less than $2000.

It's a case from San Diego.  So that's apparently the law.

In light of that fact, I'd just like to tell anyone who happens to be listening that my current ride is a 2000 Nissan Maxima GXE, and it's parked just outside the University of San Diego.  It's in crappy shape, has over 100,000 miles on it, and even Kelly Blue Book says it'll only fetch around $2,000 at trade-in.

So if you'd like to vandalize it, and pay me over $8,000 to "repair" it (even though I totally won't), feel free.  Don't worry.  It's not a windfall.  Just listen to the Court of Appeal.

Yep.  Getting $8,000 for a $2,000 car wouldn't feel like a windfall to me at all.

Let me know if you want directions.