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Name: People v. Namphonh
Case #: C075331
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/11/2015

When considering whether a defendant possesses the ability to pay for a sex offense victim’s medical examination (Pen. Code, § 1203.1h, subd. (b)), the trial court is not limited to considering the defendant’s present financial situation. Namphonh was convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child under age 14, his half-sister. (Pen. Code, § 288.5, subd. (a).) Among other fines and fees, the court ordered him to reimburse the Stockton Police Department for the victim’s medical examination in the amount of $1,850 pursuant to section 1203.1h, subdivision (b). Namphonh appealed arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the fine because there was no evidence he had a present ability to pay it. Held: Affirmed. Section 1203.1h, subdivision (b) provides that the court may order a defendant convicted of any offense involving sexual assault to pay for the victim’s medical examination to the extent “compatible with the defendant’s financial ability.” Namphonh argued that the statute should be interpreted as limiting the trial court to considering his present, rather than future, ability to pay. The Court of Appeal disagreed. When the Legislature wanted to limit a trial court to considering a defendant’s present ability to pay, it specifically stated that limitation. (See, e.g., Pen. Code, §§ 987.8, subd. (g)(2), 186.11, subd. (h)(1)(B), 186.12, subd. (f)(1)(B), 670.) Namphonh also argued that the trial court abused its discretion by finding that he had the future ability to pay the $1,850 because he lacked higher education, had minimal work history, and lacked saleable assets. Again, the Court of Appeal disagreed, reasoning, “[n]othing in the record indicates defendant, who will be in his early 30s when released, will be unable to gain employment either while in prison or upon his release.”