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State v. Thompson

Supreme Court of Montana

May 9, 2017

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
BRANDON BLUE THOMPSON, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: March 1, 2017

         Appeal From District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Broadwater, Cause No. DC 14-15 Honorable James P. Reynolds, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, Moses Okeyo, Assistant Appellant Defender, Helena, Montana.

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Cory J. Swanson, Broadwater County Attorney, Townsend, Montana.

          OPINION

          Beth Baker Justice.

         ¶1 Brandon Thompson appeals the District Court's imposition of criminal defense fees and other costs in the written judgment against him on the grounds that they were not imposed in the oral pronouncement of the sentence or following a consideration of Thompson's ability to pay. We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Thompson was convicted by a Lewis and Clark County jury of felony driving under the influence, negligent endangerment, and six other driving offenses. At the sentencing hearing, the County Attorney "recommended some leniency and suspension of fines" because the fines would be a burden to Thompson's family. In its oral pronouncement of sentence, the District Court reduced Thompson's total fines related to the eight counts from $3, 520 to $390.

         ¶3 After addressing each count, the District Court incorporated the sentencing conditions of Thompson's presentence investigation report (PSI) into its oral pronouncement of sentence. The court stated:

Mr. Thompson, in the Presentence Investigation, they've got a lot of conditions that you are to meet when you are out. Your sentence, you can remain out on a five-year suspended sentence as long as you obey all of those conditions. I am hopeful you will, and this will allow you to get treatment and get this behind you and get ahead of things.

         After ruling that Thompson's DUI sentence would run consecutive to his misdemeanor sentences, the court asked if there was "[a]nything else from anybody." Neither party responded, and the court concluded the hearing.

         ¶4 The PSI conditions that the court incorporated into its oral pronouncement included additional fees, costs, and surcharges. Of relevance here, the PSI provided:

f. Costs of assigned counsel, paid to clerk of court: (§ 46-8-113, MCA)
i. Offender shall pay costs incurred by the Office of Public Defender for providing counsel in the criminal trial[;] ...

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