State v. Below

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 07-23-2014
  • Case #: A152374
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; &Edmonds, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 151.505 and ORS 161.665, a trial court may order a defendant to pay court-appointed attorney fees and other costs. However, in order for a court to do so, there must be evidence that defendant is, or may be, able to pay the fees and costs.

Defendant appealed the imposed court-appointed attorneys fees and indigent contribution. Defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years. After defendant was charged, he applied for a court-appointed attorney (CAA). The trial court appointed a CAA and waived the $20 application fee. In a bench trial, defendant was found guilty and the trial court ordered defendant to pay $18,000 in CAA fees and an $18,000 indigent contribution. The trial court did not determine whether defendant could pay those fees. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court committed a plain error by ordering those fees. The Court reviewed for plain error, considering whether there was sufficient evidence for the trial court to determine defendant’s ability to pay the fees under ORS 151.505 and ORS 161.655. The Court found there was insufficient evidence to show that defendant would be able to pay the imposed financial obligations, thus a plain error was committed. Since a plain error was committed, the Court found it appropriate to exercise its discretion and reverse the imposition of the CAA fees and indigent contribution. Portion of judgment requiring defendant to pay CAA fees and indigent contribution reversed; otherwise affirmed.

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