Wilson filed a motion under RCW 10.01.160(4) seeking
remission of the legal financial obligations (LFOs) imposed
on him for a prior conviction. The superior court denied the
motion, reasoning the proper time for filing it is after Mr.
Wilson is released from prison. While we disagree with the
superior court's contention that Mr. Wilson must wait
until release from prison to petition for remission, we
law allows that a petition to remit LFOs be made at any time.
That means incarcerated persons are not barred from seeking
relief. However, a claim for remission based on the
defendant's economic circumstances is not ripe until the
State initiates collection. Mandatory deductions by the
Department of Corrections do not constitute collection.
Because Mr. Wilson did not allege a justiciable claim for
remission, the superior court correctly denied his motion.
November 2011, Mr. Wilson was convicted of first degree rape
of a child. He received an indeterminate sentence of 136
months to life as well as $15, 548.50 in LFOs. Mr.
Wilson's judgment and sentence orders him to pay up to
$50.00 per month from any income earned while in the custody
of the Department of Corrections.
January 2016, while still incarcerated, Mr. Wilson filed a
motion to remit his LFOs under RCW 10.01.160(4). He alleged
payment of LFOs created a financial hardship on both him and
his family. The superior court denied Mr. Wilson's
motion, ruling the proper time for Mr. Wilson to petition to
remit his LFOs is after he is released from prison. Mr.
RCW 10.01.160(4), a defendant who has been ordered to pay
LFOs and who is not in contumacious default may petition for
remission of costs "at any time." The statute
empowers trial judges to remit all or part of the amounts due
if it appears payment "will impose manifest hardship on
the defendant or the defendant's immediate family."
RCW 10.01.160(4). Because a petition for remission can be
renewed at any time, a superior court's order denying a
petition is not a final order subject to a right of appeal.
State v. Smits, 152 Wn.App. 514, 523-24, 216 P.3d
1097 (2009). Nevertheless, discretionary review remains
possible. State v. Shirts, 195 Wn.App. 849, 381 P.3d
Wilson has not filed a motion for discretionary review of the
superior court's order. However, the ends of justice and
conservation of judicial resources would best be served by
addressing Mr. Wilson's claims on the merits at this time
rather than requiring him to file a new motion for remission
and then seek discretionary review. See RAP 1.2(c)
("The appellate court may waive or alter the provisions
of any of these rules in order to serve the ends of
justice."). We therefore construe Mr. Wilson's
appeal as one requesting discretionary relief and grant
review sua sponte.
our courts have considered remission requests solely on the
basis of a petitioner's claim of economic hardship.
Because an individual's economic circumstances can
change, the Washington Supreme Court has directed us that the
time to consider an individual's economic circumstances
is when the State seeks collection of outstanding LFOs and
sanctions for nonpayment. State v. Blank, 131 Wn.2d
230, 241-42, 930 P.2d 1213 (1997). Mandatory deductions from
an inmate's wages by the Department of Corrections is not
considered a collection action. State v. Crook, 146
Wn.App. 24, 27-28, 189 P.3d 811 (2008). Thus, remission
petitions have not historically been considered ripe for
review until an inmate is out of custody and the State
initiates collection. State v. Mahone, 98 Wn.App.
342, 348, 989 P.2d 583 (1999). Only then can an individual be
considered an aggrieved party with a right to protest the
superior court's refusal to consider a petition for
long-standing assumptions about LFOs were called into
question in State v. Blazina, 182 Wn.2d 827, 344
P.3d 680 (2015). Blazina addressed a trial
judge's initial decision of whether to impose LFOs. The
court rejected the argument that a challenge to LFOs cannot
be made until the State initiates enforcement. Id.
at 832 n.l. Blazina took a broad view of the
hardships created by LFOs. The court recognized that the mere
existence of an LFO order can impair an individual's
efforts at rehabilitation and community reentry. Id.
this aspect of Blazina, Division Two of our court
considered Blazina's impact on petitions for
remission of LFOs by incarcerated persons in Shirts.
Given the broad impact of LFOs recognized in Blazina,
Shirts held that the rule from Mahone, limiting
the right to consideration of a petition for remission to
individuals who have been economically harmed by enforcement,
cannot be reconciled with Blazina. Thus,
Shirts held Mahone is no longer good law
after Blazina. Shirts, 195 Wn.App. at 856-57.
agree with Division Two's analysis in Shirts.
RCW 10.01.160(4) provides that a petition for remission can
be made "at any time." Accordingly, superior courts
have no authority to deny a remission petition simply because
an individual is in custody. As recognized in
Shirts, incarcerated persons can suffer noneconomic
harms as a result of LFO orders, such as increased security
classification or restricted access to transitional classes
or programming. Shirts, 195 Wn.App. at 852. Superior
courts should therefore consider petitions filed by inmates
and determine whether the court's imposition of LFOs has
created a manifest hardship.
on our agreement with Shirts, the superior court
erred when it denied Mr. Wilson's motion for remission
solely on the basis of his status as an incarcerated person.
Nevertheless, that does not mean Mr. Wilson is entitled to
relief. Unlike Mr. Shirts, Mr. Wilson has not alleged that
the court's LFO order has caused him any noneconomic
hardships. We remain bound by the rule in Blank that
a manifest hardship analysis is not ripe for review until
after the State initiates collection. Furthermore, we
maintain our ...