Court Has Discretion to Order Replacement or Repair Cost as Restitution

   Victims of crimes in California are entitled to restitution from the perpetrator. As part of any judgment of conviction, the court must order restitution to the victim. A crime victim who has suffered property damage is entitled to have the defendant pay restitution in the amount of “the replacement cost of like property, or the actual cost of repairing the property when repair is possible.”

   What about the circumstance where the cost to repair is three times the original purchase price of a used automobile? The trial court has discretion to award replacement or repair cost, even if the repair cost is substantially higher than replacement cost. The California Supreme Court in People v. Leroy Stanley specifically disapproved an earlier case which held that an award of restitution should be limited to the lesser of either the value of the property or the reasonable cost of repair, noting that the statute provided for cost of repair when possible.