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Name: People v. Ruiz
Case #: S235556
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/17/2018

Because a criminal laboratory analysis fee and drug program fee must be imposed for a conviction of transporting a controlled substance, imposition of these fines are also proper for a conviction of conspiracy to transport a controlled substance. Ruiz pleaded no contest to a charge of conspiracy to transport a controlled substance (Pen. Code, § 182; Health & Saf. Code, § 11379). As part of his sentence, the court imposed a $50 criminal laboratory analysis fee (Health & Saf. Code, § 11372.5, subd. (a)) and a $100 drug program fee (Health & Saf. Code, § 11372.7, subd. (a)). On appeal, Ruiz argued these fees were unauthorized because he was not convicted of a drug offense specified in the statutes establishing the fees, and the fees are not “punishment” for purposes of the conspiracy sentencing statute. The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the fees constituted “punishment” within the meaning of the conspiracy statute. The Supreme Court granted Ruiz’s petition for review. Held: Affirmed. The conspiracy sentencing statute provides that persons convicted of conspiring to commit a felony “shall be punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for the punishment of that felony.” (Pen. Code, § 182, subd. (a).) Neither section 11372.5, subdivision (a), nor section 11372.7, subdivision (a), refers to persons convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, so neither statute alone authorizes imposition of a fee for Ruiz’s conspiracy conviction. After an extensive review of the statutory language and legislative history for sections 11372.5 and 11372.7 and, applying rules of statutory construction, the Supreme Court concluded that the Legislature intended the criminal laboratory analysis fee and the drug program fee to be fines and penalties. Because the Legislature intended the fees to constitute punishment, they fall within the sentencing scope of section 182. [Editor’s Note: The court denied defendant’s request for supplemental briefing to address the question of whether these fees are subject to penalty assessments, noting that this issue is before the court in a number of cases. The court also disapproved People v. Martinez (2017) 15 Cal.App.5th 659, People v. Webb (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 486, People v. Watts (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 223, and People v. Vega (2005) 130 Cal.App.4th 183, to the extent they are inconsistent with the opinion in this case.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: