State v. Clark

Mr. Clark was convicted of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and sentenced to 38 months in prison, and to pay $1846.62, which included a $500 fine – the maximum permitted under Washington law.  Mr. Clark appealed asking for a review of the $500 fine.


Washington law distinguishes between fines and costs. The court cannot impose a cost unless the defendant is able or will be able to pay. The fine is not a cost, and the amount is a matter of judicial discretion; the judge was not required to conduct an ability to pay hearing or to limit the fine to an amount a person can afford to pay. However, the court urged trial judges to conduct ability to pay hearings before imposing the fines and to impose fines accordingly.

You can read the full text of relevant court documents here.

42 USC § 1983 (alleging due process and equal protection violations)
362 P.3d 309 (Wash. Ct. App. 2015)
Tanesha La Trelle Canzater