Sunday, March 25, 2012

Important New Court Costs Case - Maynes v. Commonwealth


2010-SC-68-DG  - March 22, 2012, Affirming.

“Needy" persons under KRS 31.110 who qualify for DPA representation are no longer automatically immune from the court costs imposed by KRS 23A.205.  “A person may qualify as "needy" under KRS 31.110 because he cannot afford the services of an attorney and yet may not qualify as ‘poor’ under KRS 23A.205 unless he is also unable to pay court costs without ‘depriving himself or his dependents of the necessities of life, including food, shelter or clothing.’”  Under KRS 23A.205 the defendant must be able to pay court costs at the time of sentencing or "in the foreseeable future."  Since Maynes' plea agreement released him from prison, he would be able to earn enough within the six months following his sentencing to afford the costs required by KRS 23A.205.

KRS 23A.205 requires imposition of court costs unless the defendant qualifies as a "poor person" defined as a person unable to pay the costs presently or within the foreseeable future without depriving himself and his dependents of the basic necessities of life. The restoration of Maynes' freedom was also the restoration of his ability to work, and so justified the trial court's order that he pay the statutorily mandated court costs pursuant to KRS 23A.205.

SENTENCING ALERT:  Trial counsel must now address court cost issues at sentencing and should put on evidence either that the sentence imposed is so long that the defendant should be exempt because he won’t be able to pay in the “foreseeable future,” or --if he will be released in the “foreseeable future”-- he should be exempt because he either has too many dependents, or is disabled or otherwise incapable of obtaining or holding a job.

Contributed by Susan Balliet