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Name: People v. Adams
Case #: H045718
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/29/2020
Summary

In two separate cases, Adams was placed on probation after pleading no contest to felony charges. In one case, defense counsel argued Adams did not have the ability to pay any fines or fees because he was homeless and did not have a job. The trial court did not impose a restitution fund fine in that case, but imposed other fines and fees. In the other case, the trial court imposed a restitution fine and other fines and fees. However, the court did not impose the criminal justice administration fee based on Adams’ inability to pay. Following a contested probation violation hearing, the court revoked probation in both cases and sentenced Adams to two years in state prison. The previously suspended probation revocation fine in the second case was ordered to be paid. The court imposed and suspended a $300 parole revocation fine (Pen. Code, § 1202.45) in each case. This occurred prior to the Dueñas decision. On appeal, based on Dueñas, Adams argued his federal constitutional right to due process was violated when fines and fees were imposed without determining that he would be able to pay them.

Holdings/Reasoning:

  • As Adams raised in the trial court his inability to pay generally and he was sentenced before Dueñas was filed, the court rejected the People’s contention that Adams forfeited his appellate arguments.
  • Dueñas was wrongly decided. (Agreeing with People v. Hicks (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 320; People v. Aviles (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 1055; People v. Allen (2019) 41 Cal.App.5th 312, 326–328.) The court disagreed with recent a recent opinion decided by a two-justice majority from a different panel of this court that followed Dueñas in a case where the People conceded that Dueñas applied. (See People v. Santos (2019) 38 Cal.App.5th 923.)
  • Dueñas is also factually distinguishable from the case here. Adams presented no similar compelling and extraordinary reasons to justify a restitution fine waiver.
  • As Adams’ argument was based entirely on Dueñas and opinions following Dueñas, the court concluded he had not demonstrated error in the trial court’s consideration of his financial circumstances or imposition of fines and fees.
  • Justice Premo dissented.