Conflicts between state appellate courts most often have to be settled by the California Supreme Court.Not so today, when Fresno’s Fifth District Court of Appeal conceded that Sacramento’s Third District had the better view on fee assessments.
Criminal defendant Jason Phillips, who pleaded guilty to a drug-possession charge, had argued that a $30 assessment for maintaining court facilities, wasn’t authorized because his crime occurred before the effective date of the controlling statute.
“Though members of this panel have previously agreed with this position,” Fifth District Justice Betty Dawson wrote, “upon consideration of the opinion of the Third Appellate District in People v. Castillo, 182 Cal.App.4th 1410, we have concluded that it has the better view." Presiding Justice James Ardaiz and Justice Bert Levy concurred.
Castillo, handed down on March 18, held that the date of conviction, not the date of the crime, controls application of the statute. Phillips committed his crime in 2008 and was sentenced in 2009; Government Code Section 70373 became effective on Jan. 1, 2009.
“We conclude,” Dawson wrote, “that the assessment was properly imposed.”
The ruling, People v. Phillips, F058534, gives the state Supreme Court one less headache with which to cope.