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PENRIGHT, CARLTON CHARLES

PD-1671-15 04/27/2016

"The Court of Appeals' decision that the consolidated court cost was constitutional failed to explain how the comprehensive rehabilitation fee is a legitimate criminal justice purpose."

Upon his felony conviction, Penright was assessed a $133 consolidated court cost pursuant to Local Gov't Code § 133.102. That provision requires the collection of costs and the allocation of the collected costs to fourteen specified accounts and funds.

The court of appeals rejected Penright's claim that the court cost was unconstitutional because some of the accounts it funds are not necessary or incidental to the trial of a criminal case. The court held that, to be proper, the costs need only relate to the administration of the criminal justice system. Here, the funds are allocated to Crime Stoppers, breath alcohol testing, law enforcement training, rehabilitation, law enforcement retirement and death benefits, criminal justice planning, juvenile delinquency prevention, crime victim's compensation, emergency radio communications, and criminal justice professional training–all of which are legitimate criminal justice purposes.

Penright contends that the "Comprehensive Rehabilitation Fee," which provides rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, serves no legitimate criminal justice purpose; therefore, it is unconstitutional. He points out that because the consolidated court cost statute has no severability clause, a single provision that is unconstitutional invalidates the entire statute.

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