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California Appellate Ruling Holds Court Fee Inapplicable to Pre-2009 Convictions

The California Court of Appeal has held that a $30 to $35 court facilities fee imposed by a non-penal statute, Government Code § 70373, does not apply to cases in which the defendant pleaded guilty, or was found guilty by a jury, before the statute’s effective date of January 1, 2009.

In June 2008, six months before Government Code § 70373 went into effect, Bruce Wayne Davis entered a plea of no contest to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was not sentenced, however, until March 2009 – after the statute went into effect – and the court imposed a $30 facilities fee.

The Court of Appeal reversed the imposition of the fee on June 18, 2010, finding that the statute imposes a fee on “every conviction for a criminal offense,” and that a “conviction” occurs when a defendant enters a plea of guilty or a jury returns a guilty verdict.

Since Davis’ plea was entered before January 1, 2009 and new laws are presumed to operate prospectively only, the court facilities fee could not be assessed in his case. See: People v. Davis, 185 Cal. App. 4th 998, 112 Cal.Rptr.3d 70 (Cal.App. 2 Dist. 2010).

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Related legal case

People v. Davis