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People v. Fleury

March 19, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
CLAUDINE FLEURY, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Yolo County, W. Arvid Johnson, Judge. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. No. 07-6957).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blease, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

The sole issue raised in this appeal is whether imposition of the $30 court facilities assessment mandated by Government Code*fn1 section 70373 for crimes committed before the enactment of the statute violates state and federal prohibitions against ex post facto laws. We find that the Legislature did not intend for the assessment to constitute punishment, and that the assessment is not so punitive as to override the Legislature's intent. (People v. Alford (2007) 42 Cal.4th 749, 756 (Alford).) Thus, we shall conclude the assessment does not violate state or federal prohibitions against ex post facto laws and affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In December 2007, defendant Claudine Fleury made several attempts to burn down an uninhabited dwelling, damaging the dwelling in the process. She also destroyed an outdoor air-conditioning unit with a pair of bolt cutters.

In April 2009, she pleaded no contest to arson of an uninhabited structure (Pen. Code, § 451, subd. (c)) and felony vandalism (id., § 594, subds. (a),(b)(1)) in exchange for dismissal of the remaining counts.

She was sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison. The trial court also imposed various fines and fees, including two $30 assessments under section 70373 (one for each offense).

DISCUSSION

The court facilities assessment is set out in section 70373, which provides in pertinent part: "(a)(1) To ensure and maintain adequate funding for court facilities, an assessment shall be imposed on every conviction for a criminal offense, including a traffic offense . . . . The assessment shall be imposed in the amount of thirty dollars ($30) for each misdemeanor or felony and in the amount of thirty-five dollars ($35) for each infraction.

"(2) For the purposes of this section, `conviction' includes the dismissal of a traffic violation on the condition that the defendant attend a court-ordered traffic violator school . . . .

"(b) This assessment shall be in addition to the state penalty assessed pursuant to Section 1464 of the Penal Code and may not be included in the base fine to calculate the state penalty assessment as specified in subdivision (a) of Section 1464 of the Penal Code. . . . .

"(c) When bail is deposited for an offense to which this section applies, and for which a court appearance is not necessary, the person making the deposit also shall deposit a sufficient amount to include the assessment prescribed by this section."

Section 70373 was enacted in September 2008 as part of Senate Bill No. 1407 (2007-2008 Reg. Sess.) (Stats. 2008, ch. 311, § 6.5, eff. Jan. 1, 2009.) It was part of a broader legislative scheme in which filing fees in civil, family, and probate cases were also raised. (See, e.g., §§ 70611 [unlimited civil filing fees], 70613, subd. (a) [limited civil filing fees], 70621 [fees for an appeal or petition for a writ in limited civil cases], 70654 [petitions for appointment of a guardian]; see also Legis. Counsel's Dig., Sen. Bill No. 1407 (2007-2008 Reg. Sess.) Stats. 2008, ch. 311, Summary Dig., pp. 24-26, 28, 32-33.)

The ex post facto clauses of the federal and state Constitutions prohibit certain categories of legislation, including laws "`"which make[] more burdensome the punishment for a crime, after its commission . . . ."'" (People v. McVickers (1992) 4 Cal.4th 81, 84 (McVickers); see U.S. Const., art. 1, § 10, cl. 1 and Cal. Const., art. 1, § 9.) "[A] penalty assessment cannot be imposed without violating the constitutional prohibition of ex post facto laws if (1) the defendant's criminal act preceded its enactment; and (2) the assessment is in fact a penalty." (People v. Batman (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th ...


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