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Name: People v. Mason
Case #: H036598
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/05/2012
Subsequent History: Review granted 8/29/12: S203747

Government Code section 29550.1 [booking fee] does not require an ability to pay finding or evidence of the actual administrative costs the fee reimburses. Appellant entered a plea in a “strike” case and was sentenced to prison for life. On appeal, he contended that imposition of a fee pursuant to Government Code section 29550.1 was error because without an implied ability-to-pay provision, or express finding of ability to pay, it violates equal protection. Further, he contended that there was no evidence of the actual administrative costs the fee was intended to reimburse. Despite the lack of objection by appellant in the trial court, the Court of Appeal held that the issue could be raised for the first time on appeal and, even if appellant had failed to preserve the issue for review, the court would exercise its discretion to hear the matter. It then found no equal protection violation. A local arrestee ordered to pay a fee under section 29550.1 is not similarly situated to a state or county arrestee ordered to pay a fee under Government Code sections 29550, subdivision (d) or 29550.2, which contain ability-to-pay provisions, because the former must only pay half of the costs as compared to the latter who must pay all the costs. With respect to the actual costs to be reimbursed, the court observed that nothing in the statute required the trial court to find that the fee represented one-half of the actual cost of booking.