Posted on January 1, 2019

Must a Criminal Suspect/Defendant Pay the Cost for Booking?

On January 1, 2019, penal code 688.5(a) took effect prohibiting the city or county from charging a defendant for the cost of investigation, prosecution, or appeal in a criminal case. The statute further provides that it is not limited to criminal violations of local ordinances.

Ordinarily, when a complaint is filed charging a defendant with a crime, the prosecuting attorney moves for an order to have the defendant “booked and released.” This allows law enforcement, including the department of justice, to log a defendants information, including address, appearance characteristics, and finger/palm prints.

Some police agencies however, require a defendant to pay a “booking fee,” a cost associated with the process of obtain a defendant’s information. However, with this new law enacted, it’s uncertain whether a defendant will be billed for the cost of booking.

For example, if a defendant is arrested for a crime, often times the investigation does not stop the moment the handcuffs are placed on the suspect. Law enforcement then transports the alleged offender to their department where the suspect’s background is further investigated. The manner of continuing to investigate a suspect’s background appears to comport with the statutory scheme of section 688.5. Furthermore, the appropriate charge or bail amount is ordinarily contingent upon the criminal history of the accused. Consequently, a defendant should not have to bear the cost of booking based upon law enforcement’s continuing and systematic policy of investigating the background of the accused.

For more information or if you have been arrested for a crime, then contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation.

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