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California: When Fine Imposed Is Payable to State Restitution Fund and Not Directly To Victim, 10% Administrative Fee Is Not Authorized

By John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeal held that when a prisoner is ordered to pay a restitution fine to the State Restitution Fund, rather than directly to the victim, no administrative fee is authorized.

Juan Eddards II was convicted of battery and assault with great bodily injury and had his five year prison term suspended when he was placed on probation. He had several fines imposed as well. At issue here was the addition of a 10% administrative fee imposed by the court on top of Eddards $1,055.62 fine that had been levied to compensate the Fund for actual expenditures made on behalf of the victims.

The court focused on the statutory language, and noted that the Legislature plainly distinguished between collection of fines payable directly to victims and collection of fines for the Fund. The former were subject to processing of bad checks and payment to multiple victims, with partial payments to be aggregated until specified minimum sums were reached, prior to disbursement. The latter, on the other hand, were sent automatically to the Fund, with no extra administrative burden. Thus, the court found that the Legislature's provision for fees up to 10% for the former was reasonable, but that no fee was authorized or even justifiable for the latter.

Accordingly, the court struck the 10% administrative fee. See: People v. Eddards, 75 Cal.Rptr.3d 924 (2008), 162 Cal.App.4th 712.

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Related legal case

People v. Eddards