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State Citation Question Brief answer Language from the opinion When does the case apply?
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California People v. Castellanos, 175 Cal. App. 4th 1524, 1532 (2009)
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,
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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).
A material part of the ability to pay is an evaluation of the totality of the accused's financial responsibility. Note, most of the statutes imposing fines have ability to pay
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provisions, so most of the court cases addressing ability to pay look at the text of the cited statute and do not ask more broadly what "ability to pay" means in the abstract.
Although the Legislature has chosen to direct trial courts to take into account other fines and restitution, the controlling question is the ability to pay which includes, in material part,
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an evaluation of the totality of an accused's financial responsibilities. People v. Castellanos, 175 Cal. App. 4th 1524, 1532, 98 Cal. Rptr. 3d 1, 7 (2009)."Government Code section 29550.2 places on the People the burden of proving a defendant's ability to pay a booking fee. Because the fee is not “punishment” for constitutional purposes (see People v. Alford, supra, 42 Cal.4th at pp. 756–759, 68 Cal.Rptr.3d 310, 171 P.3d 32), the People's burden of proof is by preponderance of evidence . . ." People v. McCullough, 56 Cal. 4th 589, 598, 298 P.3d 860, 866 (2013). "The California Legislature has made inability to pay—which encompasses both present financial inability and inability to obtain remunerative employment in order to pay—an affirmative defense." Moss v. Superior Court (Ortiz), 17 Cal. 4th 396, 426, 950 P.2d 59, 78 (1998). "In any event, equal protection does not require a trial judge make an express finding of ability to pay before ordering restitution." People v. Goulart, 224 Cal. App. 3d 71, 84 (Ct. App. 1990), modified (Oct. 1, 1990).
Ability to pay
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California People v. Walz, 160 Cal. App. 4th 1364, 1369, 73 Cal. Rptr. 3d 494, 497–98 (2008); People v. Martinez, 65 Cal. App. 4th 1511, 1521 (1998) Does the state’s separation of powers doctrine limit the ability of courts to impose or collect revenue?
When the Legislature intends to grant courts discretion to set a fine amount within a range, it will use language to show this. Otherwise, the trial court is obliged to
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impose penalties set out by the legislature and not use its discretion if not directed to.
Unless the Legislature has otherwise provided, such as in section 1202.4, subdivision (e), or Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6, subdivision (f), penalty assessments under sections 1464, and Government Code
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section 76000 are mandatory. (People v. Sierra (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 1690, 1694–1695, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 575; People v. Heisler (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 504, 506–507, 237 Cal.Rptr. 452; Penalty Assessments and Court Costs, 62 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 13, 17 (1979).) As explained in People v. Sierra, supra, 37 Cal.App.4th at page 1695, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 575: “Trial courts are given discretion under subdivision (d) of section 1464 not to impose the penalty assessment where an inmate remains in prison [until the fine is satisfied] and the payment of the assessment ‘would work a hardship on the person convicted or his or her immediate family.’ Otherwise, the trial court has an obligation to impose a penalty assessment. People v. Martinez, 65 Cal. App. 4th 1511, 1521 (1998).We conclude that the $200 fine imposed by the trial court was unauthorized. “[A] sentence is generally ‘unauthorized’ where it could not lawfully be imposed under any circumstance in the particular case.” (People v. Scott, supra, 9 Cal.4th at p. 354, 36 Cal.Rptr.2d 627, 885 P.2d 1040.) Section 290.3, subdivision (a) states that a defendant convicted of a qualifying sex offense “shall ... be punished by a fine of three hundred dollars ($300) upon the first conviction or a fine of five hundred dollars ($500) upon the second and each subsequent conviction ..., unless the court determines that the defendant does not have the ability to pay the fine.” (Italics added.) The statute does not authorize a fine of $200, and the language of section 290.3, subdivision (a) is **498 not amenable to an interpretation granting a trial court discretion to impose a fine of less than the prescribed amount if it determines that the defendant does not have the ability to pay the full amount of the fine. When the Legislature has granted trial courts discretion to set the amount of a fine within a range, it has used language that so indicates. People v. Walz, 160 Cal. App. 4th 1364, 1369, 73 Cal. Rptr. 3d 494, 497–98 (2008).
Revenue flow
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California People v. Honig, 48 Cal. App. 4th 289, 314 (1996).
Under state constitutional or statutory law, under what circumstances will the imposition or enforcement of fees or fines create conflicts of interest for courts, police departments, probation departments, or other
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law enforcement agencies?
No direct case law on this topic, but cases discuss the purpose of conflict of interest statutes that are designed to remove or limit possibility of personal influence.
The duties of public office demand the absolute loyalty and undivided, uncompromised allegiance of the individual that holds the office. (Thomson v. Call, supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 648, 214
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Cal.Rptr. 139, 699 P.2d 316; Stigall v. City of Taft (1962) 58 Cal.2d 565, 569, 25 Cal.Rptr. 441, 375 P.2d 289.) Yet it is recognized “ ‘that an impairment of impartial judgment can occur in even the most well-meaning men when their personal economic interests are affected by the business they transact on behalf of the Government.’ ” (Stigall v. City of Taft, supra, 58 Cal.2d at p. 570, 25 Cal.Rptr. 441, 375 P.2d 289, quoting United States v. Mississippi Valley Generating Co. (1961) 364 U.S. 520, 549, 81 S.Ct. 294, 309, 5 L.Ed.2d 268, 288.) Consequently, our conflict-of-interest statutes are concerned with what might have happened rather than merely what actually happened. (Ibid.) They are aimed at eliminating temptation, avoiding the appearance of impropriety, and assuring the government of the officer's undivided and uncompromised allegiance. (Thomson v. Call, supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 648, 214 Cal.Rptr. 139, 699 P.2d 316.) Their objective “is to remove or limit the possibility of any personal influence, either directly or indirectly which might bear on an official's decision....” (Stigall v. City of Taft, supra, 58 Cal.2d at p. 569, 25 Cal.Rptr. 441, 375 P.2d 289, emphasis in original; see also People v. Vallerga (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d 847, 865, 136 Cal.Rptr. 429; People v. Watson (1971) 15 Cal.App.3d 28, 39, 92 Cal.Rptr. 860.). People v. Honig, 48 Cal. App. 4th 289, 314 (1996).
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California People v. Amor, 12 Cal. 3d 20, 25–26, 523 P.2d 1173, 1175–76 (1974) Are there limits to the state’s ability to recoup fees for counsel under the state constitution?
The Court is able to forewarn a defendant that she might be held liable for payment of her appointed counsel and order her to pay what she has the financial
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ability to pay. However, it cannot condition probation on a requirement that the defendant reimburse the court for costs of appointed counsel or hold her liable without a finding of financial ability or warning.
Questions: First. Does section 987.8 of the Penal Code place an unconstitutional burden on the right to counsel in criminal proceedings? No. Defendant contends that section 987.8 is unconstitutional, on
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the ground that it has a chilling effect upon an accused's right to counsel. She argues that a deprivation of the trial to counsel may result, because the possibility under the statute that a defendant will be ordered to pay all or part of his counsel fees may cause him to decline counsel rather than run the risk of being required to pay counsel fees in an unknown amount. Under this theory, however, any defendant, indigent or not indigent, who elected to enter a guilty plea in order to save counsel fees would have been deprived of his right to counsel. If such a theory were sound, it would result in the practical elimination of the fee system with respect to the defense of criminal prosecutions. In urging her contention, defendant relies principally upon In re Allen, 71 Cal.2d 388, 78 Cal.Rptr. 207, 455 P.2d 143. In Allen, this court held that probation may not be conditioned on a requirement that the defendant reimburse the county for the services of court—appointed counsel. Allen, however, is distinguishable from the present case. In Allen, there is justification for concluding that the petitioner would have been penalized for exercising a constitutional right, because not only would she have been liable for payment of the entire fee paid to counsel for representing her, without a finding that she had the financial ability to make payment and with no warning that she might be held so liable, but she could have been imprisoned if she failed to pay the fee, payment thereof being one of the conditions of her probation. Here, on the other hand, the defendant, who had been forewarned that she might be held liable for payment of the fee for her appointed counsel, or part of it, was ordered to pay only that part which the court determined she had the financial ability to pay; and under the statute, since execution was issuable only as on a judgment in a civil action, she could not have been imprisoned for nonpayment. (Cal.Const., art. I, s 15.). People v. Amor, 12 Cal. 3d 20, 25–26, 523 P.2d 1173, 1175–76 (1974)
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Iowa State v. Van Hoff, 415 N.W.2d 647, 649 (Iowa 1987)
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,
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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).
A determination of reasonableness ... is more appropriately based on [a defendant's] ability to pay the current installments than his ability to ultimately pay the total amount due. A determination of reasonableness ... is more appropriately based on [a defendant's] ability to pay the current installments than his ability to ultimately pay the total amount due. Ability to pay
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Iowa State v. Kurtz, 878 N.W.2d 469, 473 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016) A defendant who seeks to upset a restitution order has the burden to demonstrate either the failure of the court to exercise discretion or an abuse of that discretion. A defendant who seeks to upset a restitution order, however, has the burden to demonstrate either the failure of the court to exercise discretion or an abuse of that discretion. Ability to pay
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Iowa Goodrich v. State, 608 N.W.2d 774, 776 (Iowa 2000) Ability to pay must be determined before imposition.
Constitutionally, a court must determine a criminal defendant's ability to pay before entering an order requiring such defendant to pay criminal restitution pursuant to Iowa Code section 910.2. Section 910.2
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authorizes a court to order the offender to make restitution of court costs and court-appointed attorney's fees “to the extent that the offender is reasonably able to do so.
Ability to pay
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Iowa State v. Kurtz, 878 N.W.2d 469, 472 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016) Are there limits to the state’s ability to recoup fees for counsel under the state constitution?
The restitution ordered to the victim is made without regard to the defendant's ability to pay; however, other reimbursement and costs are ordered only to the extent that the defendant
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is reasonably able to pay.
The restitution ordered to the victim is made without regard to the defendant's ability to pay; however, other reimbursement and costs are ordered only to the extent that the defendant
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is reasonably able to pay. . . . Thus, before ordering payment for court-appointed attorney fees and court costs, the court must consider the defendant's ability to pay.
Ability to pay
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Mississippi Baldwin v. State, 891 So.2d 274, 276 (Miss. Ct. App. 2004); Moody v. State, 716 So.2d 562, 565-66 (Miss. 1998).
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,
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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).
The state supreme court has held that it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the MS state constitution's equal protection provisions to subject a defendant to jail time
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simply because he is unable to pay a fine without first making a determination of the defendant's ability to pay. There appears to be no specific minimum requirements for ability-to-pay determinations. Apparently, however, the burden is on the defendant to inform and show the court that he is indigent.
"During the revocation hearing in May 2002, Baldwin never testified that he was indigent. In fact, Baldwin stated that a former employer was going to rehire him. Baldwin offered to
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have his wages garnished. Baldwin also stated that he gets anywhere from $2,000 and $3,000 back after taxes through earned income credit and would use that money for restitution.We cannot find that there was any abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge in determining whether or not Baldwin could make his restitution payments. This issue is without merit." Baldwin v. State, 891 So.2d 274, 276 (Miss. Ct. App. 2004). “[O]ne who is unable to pay will always be in a position of facing a felony conviction and jail time, while those with adequate resources will not. The automatic nature of the fine is what makes it discriminating to the poor, in that only the poor will face jail time. We hold that an indigent's equal protection rights are violated when all potential defendants are offered one way to avoid prosecution and that one way is to pay a fine, and there is no determination as to an individual's ability to pay such a fine. Subjecting one to a jail term merely because he cannot afford to pay a fine, due to no fault of his own, is unconstitutional. Moody v. State, 716 So.2d 562, 565-66 (Miss. 1998) (citing Bearden v. Georgia, 461 U.S. 660 (1983)).
Ability to pay
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Mississippi Mississippi Judicial Performance Com'n v. A Justice Court Judge, 580 So.2d 1259, 1261-62 (Miss. 1991) Does the state’s separation of powers doctrine limit the ability of courts to impose or collect revenue? Judges are prohibited from collecting fees except in special circumstances. Such circumstances require the judge to seek written permission from the court clerk
“We cannot say that it is absolutely wrong for a justice court judge to personally accept fine monies, because it is not expressly forbidden by statute. On the other hand,
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the statutes do not authorize it any more than they authorize a circuit judge to personally receive fine monies in his court, or a chancellor to personally receive public monies in his. There is a clear legislative intent to remove justice court judges from collection of fines. Only the justice court clerk has the statutory authority to collect fines, give receipts for fines, and account for all fine monies paid to the county.” Mississippi Judicial Performance Com'n v. A Justice Court Judge, 580 So.2d at 1262 “This Court therefore makes the following admonition to justice court judges insofar as individually accepting fine monies: Don't.” Id. “Just as with a circuit judge or chancellor, it should only be in some isolated and clearly necessitous circumstance that a justice court judge ever undertake the responsibility himself of receiving any fine money. If that extreme occasion arises, he must give a written receipt, keep the money segregated and apart from his own, and at the very first opportunity deliver it to the justice court clerk with an explanation of why he received it himself.” Id.
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Mississippi Isham v. State, 161 So.3d 1076, 1084 (Miss. 2015). Other applicable caselaw Indigent defendants are entitled to state-funded criminal expert witnesses.
 "In order to be entitled to a State-funded expert, a criminal defendant must prove not only that the expert is necessary to the preparation of his defense, but he also
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must prove his indigency. Ake, 470 U.S. at 70, 105 S.Ct. 1087. Here, the trial court's order assigning Isham a public defender clearly indicates that he was financially unable to pay for an attorney, and the case proceeded on the basis that Isham was indigent." Id.
Fines and fees
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Mississippi
Quitman County v. State, 910 So.2d 1032, 1034-35 (Miss. 2005); Perisha Wallace, "No Equal Justice for the Poor: Mississippi's Failed Attempt to Honor the Right to Counsel Mandates," 9 S.
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J. POL’Y & JUSTICE 81, 86-89 (2015).
Other applicable caselaw
According to Mississippi state law, the counties, not the state, have the responsibility of covering expenses for public defender services. This is an unusual system compared to public defender funding
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schemes in other states. The county system has been criticized for failing to ensure adequate representation for indigent defendants in criminal proceedings. The lack of state funding for defender services may be in violation of the 6th Amendment right to counsel provisions articulated by Supreme Court cases Gideon v. Wainwright and Strickland v. Washington.
Section 25-32-7 of the Mississippi Code Annotated is the statutory authority that requires counties to fund the representation of indigent criminal defendants and specifically provides for the compensation and expenses
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for the public defender's office. Section 25-32-7 provides that: The public defender shall be provided with office space, secretarial assistance, and all reasonable expenses of operating the office, at least equal to or more than the county prosecuting attorney, or the district attorney if the public defender represents the entire circuit court district. The compensation and expenses of the public defender's office shall be paid by the county or counties if two (2) or more counties are acting jointly. The funds shall be paid upon allowance by the board of supervisors by order spread upon the minutes of the board. Also, § 99-15-17, in pertinent part provides “[t]he fees and expenses [of counsel for indigents] as allowed by the appropriate judge shall be paid by the county treasurer out of the general fund of the county in which the prosecution was commenced.” Quitman I, 807 So.2d at 407. Quitman v. State, 910 So.2d at 1035. Mississippi's per-capita spending rate on public defense is $4.15. It is the lowest in the country, $7.31 lower than the national average. As a result, the county funded part-time lawyers continuously lack funding to conduct the most basic investigations, to conduct legal research, or to hire experts, yet another clear violation of Gideon and Strickland. In many counties, hiring an investigator or a psychiatrist in a non-death penalty case is only possible if the lawyer pays for it out of his or her own pocket. Indigent defense lawyers must handle their own appeals, often without more compensation. While attorneys representing defendants are entitled to receive payment for overhead, the amount of overhead allowed is in the presiding county judges' discretion, and is often times capped. Counties have set very low amounts as the maximum available for compensation of indigent counsel, and the judge must approve any excess funding. Unfortunately, judges are reluctant to develop a reputation for spending tax dollars on criminal defendants, so they often deny any such requests. As a result, the most basic investigations are not completed by the lawyer. The publication identified children as young as 14 who were sent to state prison for decades “after being represented by lawyers who did no investigation on their cases” and “who spent less time talking to [[the children] than a sales clerk might spend with a customer buying a pair of shoes.” Perisha Wallace, "No Equal Justice for the Poor: Mississippi's Failed Attempt to Honor the Right to Counsel Mandates,” 9 S. J. POL’Y & JUSTICE at 88-89. (Citations omitted).
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