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Name: People v. McCullough
Case #: C064982
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/22/2011
Subsequent History: 6/29/11 rev. granted (S192513)

Failure to object to imposition of booking fees results in forfeiture of the issue on appeal. Appellant was sentenced to state prison. In addition to other costs, he was ordered to pay an $800 restitution fine and $270.17 in jail booking fees. Although appellant objected to the restitution fine, claiming he was on a fixed income, he did not object to the booking fees. The trial court, noting the “relatively low amount” of the restitution fine, declined to set it at $200. Appellant argued on appeal that there was no evidence of his ability to pay the booking fees. The appellate court held that he had forfeited the claim by failing to object to the fee at the sentencing hearing. In this respect, the court found the booking fee distinguishable from that the attorney fees at issue in People v. Pacheco (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 1392, which held no objection was necessary to raise the issue on appeal. Pacheco relied on People v. Viray (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1186 [no objection to attorney fees required because of the inherent conflict of interest posed by court-appointed counsel seeking fees from the client] and People v. Lopez (2005) 129 Cal.App,4th 1508 [no objection required because the relevant attorney fee statute contains a presumption that a defendant sentenced to state prison has no ability to pay, unless the court makes an express finding of unusual circumstances]. People v. Butler (2003) 31 Cal.4th 119 is also distinguishable because the statute authorizing AIDS testing requires a finding of probable cause for the order to be valid. Further, the Butler court specified that its holding was limited, and did not apply to claims of insufficient evidence of ability to pay. Requiring a defendant to object to imposition of booking fees at the trial level (a claim essentially involving an issue of fact) will allow the trial court to resolve the issue, and thereby save the state from spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars on [appellate] challenges to relatively minuscule [costs.].” (People v. Gibson (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 1466, 1469.)