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Name: People v. Kingston
Case #: B293920
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/04/2019
Summary

Subsequent history: No petition for review filed and remittitur issued.

In 2015, Kingston pleaded no contest to one count of receiving a stolen car. She was placed on formal probation for three years, conditioned on her reporting to probation and completing 45 hours of community service. The trial court also imposed fines and fees. Kingston ultimately failed to report, was found in violation, and was reinstated on probation. Eighteen months later, Kingston’s probation officer reported she had been assessed additional fines, fees, and assessments. The probation officer also reported that Kingston had not fully complied with a payment plan, and had not registered for or performed any community service. After admitting that she violated probation, Kingston was released on her own recognizance. However, she failed to appear and the court found her in violation of probation again. Kingston requested she be reinstated on probation, promised to complete the community service, and stated that her boyfriend could pay the $150 community service registration fee that day. The court terminated probation and sentenced Kingston to three years in county jail. On appeal, Kingston argued imposition of the fines and fees was unconstitutional absent an ability-to-pay hearing, relying on Dueñas.

Holdings/Reasoning:

  • The court disagreed with Dueñas and concluded People v. Hicks (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 320 is a better reasoned decision.
  • The trial court did not violate Kingston’s due process rights by imposing the assessments and restitution fine without first ascertaining her ability to pay them.
  • In the trial court, Kingston never contended that she was unable to pay the $150 community service registration fee, and nothing in the record indicated she suffered from a physical, mental, or emotional impediment that precluded her from “mak[ing] sufficient bona fide efforts to seek employment or borrow money in order to pay” it. (Hicks, supra, 40 Cal.App.5th at p. 327.) Instead, Kingston demonstrated her ability to pay the fee by representing below that her boyfriend could be in court that day to pay it, and by obtaining the $150 in the three weeks between the sentencing hearing and her notice of appeal.
  • The trial court did not abuse its discretion in terminating probation because the record revealed that Kingston’s violation of the terms of probation was the result of irresponsible or willful behavior. No evidence supported Kingston’s argument that her failure to register for or complete any community service was caused by her inability to pay the $150 registration fee.