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Name: People v. Prescott
Case #: B242196
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 02/27/2013

The presumption of inability to pay attorney fees for a defendant committed to state prison, as contained in Penal Code section 987.8, subdivision (g)(2)(B), does not apply to a defendant committed to county jail under the Realignment Act. Appellant was convicted of vehicle theft, with prior prison term enhancements, committed to a five-year term in local custody, and ordered to pay $400 in attorney fees, without the benefit of a noticed hearing. Applying rules of statutory construction, the appellate court found that section 987.8, subdivision (g)(2)(B), with its clear language, “Unless the court finds unusual circumstances, a defendant sentenced to state prison shall be determined not to have a reasonably discernible future financial ability to reimburse the costs of his or her defense,” did not apply to a local commitment pursuant to Realignment. Because the order was imposed without the benefit of a noticed hearing as required by section 987.8, however, the matter was remanded for an ability-to-pay hearing.