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People v. Ortiz

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Third Division

April 21, 2016

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
James Augustine Ortiz, Defendant-Appellant.

Las Animas County District Court No. 12CR250 Honorable Leslie J. Gerbracht, Judge.

Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Jillian J. Price, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Sarah A. Kellogg, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

OPINION

J. JONES, JUDGE.

¶ 1 Defendant, James Augustine Ortiz, appeals that portion of the district court's sentencing order requiring him to pay $1, 415.85 in restitution, representing the cost to repair a state patrol car damaged in the course of a state trooper's attempt to apprehend him. Relying principally on Dubois v. People, 211 P.3d 41 (Colo. 2009), defendant contends that because he did not plead guilty to an offense that specifically identifies the state patrol as a victim, the state patrol is not a victim in this case within the meaning of the restitution statutes. We conclude, however, that defendant reads Dubois too broadly. That case does not preclude an award of restitution to a government agency which is the victim of the conduct underlying the charges against a defendant, even if the defendant ultimately pleads guilty only to an offense as to which the government agency is not expressly or by necessary implication a potential victim. Because the state patrol was a victim of the conduct - vehicular eluding - included among the charges against defendant, it is a victim for purposes of the restitution statutes, even though defendant pleaded guilty to other charges.

¶ 2 We also reject defendant's other contention of error, and therefore affirm the restitution order.

I. Background

¶ 3 A deputy sheriff stopped defendant's vehicle (a silver hatchback) while investigating a report of shots fired by a person driving a white hatchback. A state patrol officer, Trooper King, arrived at the scene. The deputy told defendant to get out of the car, but, rather than complying, defendant sped away. Trooper King gave chase.

¶ 4 Defendant drove erratically, with Trooper King in pursuit. Trooper King tried to stop defendant by bumping the left front of his patrol car against the right rear of defendant's car. Trooper King bumped defendant's car several times; finally, defendant stopped.

¶ 5 The People charged defendant with vehicular eluding, three counts of aggravated driving after revocation prohibited, violation of a protection order, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, illegal possession or consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and unlawful changing of lanes. Defendant and the People reached a plea agreement. Defendant agreed to plead guilty to one count of aggravated driving after revocation prohibited (reckless driving) and one count of violation of a protection order. In return, the People agreed to drop the other charges.

¶ 6 At the providency hearing, defendant's counsel acknowledged that defendant had attempted to elude the law enforcement officers and that Trooper King had stopped him by "[running] him off the road." The district court accepted the plea and sentenced defendant to six months probation on the aggravated driving offense and six months in jail on the violation of a protection order offense.

¶ 7 The People moved for restitution, supported by a "Request for Restitution" form completed by Sergeant Billinger of the Colorado State Patrol, seeking $1, 458.18 for damage to Trooper King's patrol car. Sergeant Billinger testified at the hearing on the motion as follows:

. When she arrived at the scene after Trooper King had stopped defendant, she saw the damage to Trooper King's patrol car.
. Trooper King described the chase to her; she related what Trooper King had told her.
. Part of her job is to oversee all maintenance and repair requests for local state patrol vehicles, including "get[ting] estimates from local shops." Payment is ...

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