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|State||Citation||Question||Brief answer||Language from the opinion||When does the case apply?|
|South Dakota||State v. Webb, 856 N.W.2d 171, 174 (S.D. 2014)||
Under state constitutional or statutory law, what are the minimum requirements for a constitutionally adequate ability-to-pay determination? Include any guidance about the substantive standards to apply, the burden of proof,+ See more
the sources of information that should be considered, and the timing of the determination (i.e. before imposition, before enforcement action, only if incarceration is threatened).
This is the first instance in which we have addressed the Excessive Fines Clause as it applies to a criminal fine. . . “First, the claimant must make a prima+ See more
facie showing of gross disproportionality; and, second, if the claimant can make such a showing, the court considers whether the disproportionality reaches such a level of excessiveness that in justice the punishment is more criminal than the crime. ...One of the primary considerations for assessing gross disproportionality should necessarily be the Legislature's judgment about the appropriate punishment for the offense. ...
|Ability to pay|
|South Dakota||State v. Huth, 334 NW 2d 485 (1983); White Eagle v. State, 280 NW 2d 659 (1979).||Are there limits to the state’s ability to recoup fees for counsel under the state constitution?||
To a very limited extent. The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld (at least twice) the state's law requiring repayment of indigent counsel fees. The Court held in both instances+ See more
that, because of language statung that a failure to pay by the defendant because of inability to pay would not be considered a violation of probation, that revocation for non-payment would not be tantamount to imprisonment for debt but rather a sanction imposed for an intentional refusal to obey a court order.
Appellant's first contention is that imposing the repayment of attorney fees as a condition of probation is a violation of his right to equal protection of the law because, as+ See more
a result of such a condition, an indigent defendant is treated differently than a non-indigent defendant. Appellant argues that an indigent defendant can be imprisoned, by revocation of probation, for nonpayment of a debt whereas a nonindigent defendant who does not pay his attorney fees cannot be imprisoned for his failure to pay a debt. We do not agree with appellant's analysis. Appellant's right to equal protection of the law requires that the law be applied equally. That was done in this case. He was given the same choice that any other defendant in this situation, indigent or not, would have been given: probation with conditions or imprisonment. He was made fully aware of all the conditions being imposed and he accepted them. The conditions imposed need not be the same for every defendant and the fact that they are not is not a denial of equal protection. Conditions of probation may be tailored to suit the needs, practicalities and realities of each case to better serve the defendant and the public. The decision whether or not to accept the conditions was given to appellant just as it is to any defendant in a similar situation. Appellant's equal protection rights were not violated. See State v. Gerard, 57 Wis.2d 611, 205 N.W.2d 374 (1973). Closely related to his equal protection argument is appellant's contention that imposition of repayment of attorney fees as a condition of probation is unconstitutional in that any revocation of probation for failure to pay said fees would be imprisonment for debt, which is prohibited by Article VI, § 15, of the South Dakota Constitution. Again, we disagree with appellant. In Fuller v. Oregon, 417 U.S. 40, 94 S.Ct. 2116, 40 L.Ed.2d 642 (1974), the United States Supreme Court ruled that repayment of attorney fees as a condition of probation, as provided by Oregon statutes, was not a violation of Mr. Fuller's constitutional rights. Oregon's statutes required that a probatee not be required to pay said fees unless he is or will be able to do so, that the probatee may petition to have the unpaid portion "forgiven"; and that no probatee may have his probation revoked due to nonpayment if he shows that his failure to repay was not attributable to an intentional refusal to obey the order or a lack of a good faith effort to make the payments. The Court approved the statutory scheme as being within constitutional guidelines pointing out that any probatee who truly is unable to make such payments due to hardship or other disability will not lose his freedom because of his failure to do so. Although the issue of imprisonment for debt was not brought before the Court in Fuller and was only discussed in a footnote, we agree with the majority's observation that, since no probatee who is truly unable to make repayment will have his probation revoked for such failure, the condition, if enforced, is not imprisonment for debt, but is rather "a sanction imposed for `an intentional refusal to obey the order of the court[.]'"
|Ability to pay|