as: 186 Ariz. 218, 920 P.2d 784)
of Arizona, ex rel. Roderick G. McDOUGALL, Petitioner,
COURT of the State of Arizona, In and For the COUNTY OF MARICOPA, the
I. Sylvan Brown and Phoenix Municipal Court, the Honorable N. Pike
judges thereof, Respondents,
MARTINEZ, Real Party in Interest.
1 CA-SA 96-0161.
of Appeals of Arizona,
1, Department B.
Corrected July 17, 1996.
special action raises the issue whether a defendant who causes an injury
accident and is convicted of leaving the scene of that accident must pay
restitution for damages caused in the underlying accident. We accept
jurisdiction but deny relief.
December 26, 1994, real party in interest, Severiano Martinez, caused a
traffic accident by turning left in front of a car driven by Bonnie Frazier.
Both Frazier and a passenger sustained injuries requiring medical treatment.
Additionally, Frazier's car was severely damaged. Martinez immediately
left the scene of the accident and was later charged with leaving the scene of
an accident involving death or injury in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes
Annotated section (A.R.S. § ) 28-661 and making an unsafe turn in violation
of A.R.S. § 28-754(A).
the municipal court proceeding, Martinez pled guilty to the leaving the scene
charge and responsible to the unsafe turn charge. Frazier's insurance
company sought restitution for the $13,266 paid to Frazier. The
municipal court refused to order Martinez to pay the restitution requested by
Frazier's insurance company.
state appealed Martinez' sentence to the Maricopa County Superior Court.
The superior court held the municipal court had correctly refused to impose
the $13,266 in restitution against Martinez because there was no evidence
Martinez' leaving the scene caused or exacerbated any of the injuries.
The decision by this court to accept special action jurisdiction is largely
discretionary. *220 **786 State ex rel. McDougall v. Superior Court, 172
Ariz. 153, 155, 835 P.2d 485, 487 (App.1992). Special action
review is appropriate where the state has exhausted all remedies by appeal and
is foreclosed from seeking further review. Id. Here, the state cannot
appeal the superior court's judgment on appeal from the municipal court
because the action does not involve the validity of a tax, impost, assessment,
toll, municipal fine, or statute. A.R.S. § 22-375. Additionally,
special action review is appropriate because of the lack of case law
addressing this specific issue. See Duquette v. Superior Court, 161
Ariz. 269, 271, 778 P.2d 634, 636 (App.1989).
state alleges the municipal court erred by not requiring Martinez to pay
restitution for damages caused in the accident. We disagree.
Arizona Constitution provides victims with a right to restitution. Under
article 2, section 2.1(A)(8), victims of crime have a right to "receive
prompt restitution from the person or persons convicted of the criminal
conduct that caused the victim's loss or injury." Additionally,
A.R.S. § 13-603(C) states that "[i]f a person is convicted of an
offense, the court shall require the convicted person to make restitution to
the person who is the victim of the crime...." Finally, A.R.S. §
13-804(B) states that a court ordering restitution "shall consider all
losses caused by the criminal offense."
Where the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous this court will apply
the statute's plain language. Resolution Trust Corp. v. Western
Technologies, Inc., 179 Ariz. 195, 201, 877 P.2d 294, 300 (App.1994). The
plain language of both the constitutional and statutory provisions requires
restitution only for losses caused by the criminal conduct for which defendant
was convicted. None of the provisions mandate restitution for
noncriminal acts committed by defendant. In fact, A.R.S. § 13-809
specifically exempts traffic offenses from those offenses for which
restitution is required.
in State v. Skiles, 146 Ariz. 153, 704 P.2d 283 (App.1985), this court held
restitution is not required for injuries resulting from the underlying
accident unless defendant's action in leaving the scene aggravates the
victim's injuries. Id. at 154, 704 P.2d at 284. In the present
case, none of the injuries for which the state seeks restitution was caused by
Martinez' criminal conduct. The criminal offense of leaving the scene of
an injury accident did not result in the aggravation of injuries sustained in
the underlying accident. All of the injuries for which the state seeks
restitution were caused by Martinez' violation of A.R.S. § 28-754(A), a civil
in Skiles, the court specifically did not decide whether restitution was
appropriate after a conviction for leaving the scene when defendant was
clearly responsible for the accident. Id. The state contends Martinez
must pay restitution because he was at fault for the underlying accident.
Again, we disagree. The state's argument is contrary to the plain
language of both the Arizona Constitution and A.R.S. § 13-603(C) and 13-804.
Both the constitution and statutes require restitution only where the injury
is caused by the criminal conduct for which defendant was convicted. We,
therefore, hold Martinez' liability for the underlying accident does not
require restitution as part of Martinez' sentence for leaving the scene of the
The state also contends the municipal court incorrectly held that insurance
companies are not proper parties to receive restitution. We agree. The
law is well-established that an insurance company that sustains losses as a
result of criminal conduct is entitled to restitution. State v. Blanton,
173 Ariz. 517, 520, 844 P.2d 1167, 1170 (App.1992); State v. Merrill,
136 Ariz. 300, 301-02, 665 P.2d 1022, 1023-24 (App.1983).
P.J., and LANKFORD, J., concur.