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Name: People v. Alford
Case #: D070486
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/15/2017
Summary

The criminal analysis laboratory fee and drug program fee are subject to additional penalty assessments under Penal Code section 1464 and Government Code section 76000. Following Alford’s guilty plea for possessing methamphetamine for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11378), the court imposed a $205 criminal laboratory analysis fee (Health & Saf. Code, § 11372.5, subd. (a)) and a $615 drug program fee (Health & Saf. Code, § 11372.7, subd. (a)). Alford moved to strike portions of these assessments, noting the statutes limit the laboratory fee to $50 and drug program fee to $150. The trial court denied the motion. Alford appealed, arguing that the court erred in adding the Penal Code section 1464 and Government Code section 76000 penalties to these fees. Held: Affirmed. The penalty statutes (Pen. Code, § 1464; Gov. Code, § 76000) mandate that a court impose a penalty assessment “upon every fine, penalty, or forfeiture imposed and collected . . . for all criminal offenses” with certain exceptions. After analyzing sections 11372.5 and 11372.7 and relevant case law, the court here concluded that the penalty assessments apply to the laboratory analysis fee and drug program fee. (See People v. Talibdeen (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1151, 1153.) The settled rule is that assessments arising from criminal convictions are generally considered punishment. (People v. Alford (2007) 42 Cal.4th 749, 757.) While there may be budgetary reasons for the laboratory fee and drug program fee, the parties did not cite to any statutory language or legislative history showing funding for the services provided was the sole purpose of the assessments, which could have supported the argument that they are fees rather than fines not subject to the penalty statutes. The court disagreed with People v. Watts (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 223.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/D070486.PDF