Summary of the cause of action
Mr. Blazina was sentenced to 20 months in prison for second degree assault. Attached to his sentence were a $500 victim penalty assessment, $200 filing fee, $100 DNA sample fee, $400 fee for Assigned Counsel, and $2,087.87 in extradition costs. Paige Colter was sentenced to 360 months of confinement with a $500 crime victim penalty assessment, a $200 filing fee, $100 fee for the DNA sample, $1500 for assigned counsel, and restitution by later order. No ability to pay determination was conducted by the trial court in either of their cases. Both, however, failed to object to the imposition of the fees at the sentencing.
On their first appeal, the Court of Appeals declined to reach the issue because the defendants failed to object at sentencing. However, the Supreme Court of Washington used its discretion to reach their unpreserved claims. The Court held that individualized inquiries of the defendant’s current and future ability to pay must be made before imposing Legal Financial Obligations – Washington State’s term for fines and fees.