State v. Mendoza

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 07-06-2017
  • Case #: A163190
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Egan, J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

“A court cannot impose fees based on pure speculation that a defendant has funds to pay the fees or may acquire them in the future.” State v. Pendergrapht, 251 Or App 630, 634 (2012).

Defendant appealed a judgment imposing attorney fees after a criminal conviction. Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s finding that he “[was] or may be able to pay” court-appointed attorney fees. Defendant argued that the possibility he may be able to obtain work after his prison sentence was not sufficient evidence to support the imposition of court-appointed attorney fees. The State countered that being able-bodied to work was sufficient evidence to reasonably infer Defendant could pay attorney fees upon release. “In the absence of legally sufficient evidence that the defendant has the ability to pay the amount imposed, it is plain error for a trial court to require a defendant to pay court-appointed attorney fees.” State v. Coverstone, 260 Or App 714, 716 (2014). “A court cannot impose fees based on pure speculation that a defendant has funds to pay the fees or may acquire them in the future.” State v. Pendergrapht, 251 Or App 630, 634 (2012). The Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred by imposing court-appointed attorney fees because the evidence did not permit the court to make a nonspeculative objective assessment of the Defendant’s present or potential earning capacity and ability to pay the attorney fees upon his release. Portion of judgment requiring defendant to pay attorney fees reversed; otherwise affirmed.

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