Special Edition: Arizona fee/fine/cost legislation in the 2017 session

HB 2245 ORIGINAL: Requires Supreme Court report annually to the governor and the legislature the amount of fees that were collected by every court in the state, including the revenue and collection rates for each court. AMENDED: Strike all language. Strike-all amendment approved by House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee 2/15/17.

SB 1158 Implements a portion of the recommendations of the Arizona Chief Justice’s Task Force on Fair Justice for All.

AS AMENDED AND APPROVED BY SENATE 2/22/17

Fine Mitigation and Restitution

  • Modifies the court’s ability to waive civil penalties, forfeitures and fines, instead allowing the court to mitigate them. Maintains requirements related to hardship and division of the amount assessed.
  • Stipulates that the court cannot mitigate the Clean Elections surcharge.
  • Allows the court to mitigate mandatory fines and civil penalties. They are not currently allowed to be waived.
  • Permits the court to waive or mitigate mandatory community restitution due to a defendant’s medical condition. Specifies this ability does not apply to community restitution in lieu of a monetary obligation.
  • Allows the court to mitigate a fine imposed on conviction for a drug offense.
  • Eliminates the requirement that a probationer be current on the payment of monetary obligations to receive earned time credit. Maintains the requirement that the probationer be current on court-ordered restitution.
  • Expands the ability of the court to order a defendant to perform community restitution in lieu of paying all or part of a monetary obligation if the court finds the defendant is unable to pay.
  • Specifies that community restitution in lieu of a monetary obligation does not apply to the Clean Elections surcharge.
  • Reduces the interest that accrues on a criminal restitution order in favor of the state from 10 percent to 4 percent per year.
  • Allows the court to waive all or part of the interest on a criminal restitution order in favor of any person entitled to restitution on agreement of the prosecutor and victim.

Removal of Debt

  • Allows the superior court, a justice of the peace or a municipal court to order all or part of a debt due to the court be removed from the accounting system if
    a) 20 years or more have elapsed from the date of the initial fine or other monetary obligation in a criminal or civil traffic case that resulted in the debt;
    b) the court notifies the prosecutor, defendant and victim, if the defendant’s and victim’s addresses are known, that the court may remove all or part of the debt and that any party or the victim may file an objection to the removal within 30 days after notification;
    c) the court makes reasonable attempts to collect the debt, including billing the debtor on at least four different dates;
    d) the court submits the debt for collection to a licensed collection agency and does not order the removal for at least a year while the agency attempts collection;
    e) the court notifies the Department of Revenue of the debt pursuant to statute; and
    f) the court notifies the county or city treasurer, as appropriate.
  • Requires the court to consider any objection in determining whether to remove the debt.

Sentences of Community Restitution or Education or Treatment

  • Permits the court to impose a term of community restitution or education or treatment if a conviction is for a misdemeanor and the person is not granted a period of probation or probation is revoked, in addition to any sentence authorized by law.
  • Requires the court to determine and fix the sentence for a definite period of time if the court imposes a sentence to perform community restitution for a misdemeanor conviction.
  • Requires the court or probation officer to determine the program of education or treatment.
  • Prohibits the term of education or treatment the court imposes from exceeding the term of probation for such convictions.

Miscellaneous

  • Relieves court clerks of their duty to automatically report unpaid fines, fees, incarceration costs or restitution and instead requires clerks to make the person’s payment history available for free only on request by:

a) the prosecutor;
b) the victim;
c) the victim’s attorney;
d) the probation department; and
e) the court.

  • Eliminates the ability of the court to revoke a defendant’s probation, parole or community supervision and to sentence the defendant to prison if the court finds the defendant:

a) has willfully failed to pay a fine, fee, assessment, restitution or incarceration costs; or
b) has intentionally refused to make a good faith effort to obtain the monies required for payment.

  • Allows time spent in actual custody to be credited in each sentence against the term of imprisonment if the defendant is released from custody pending trial on at least one charge, but remains in actual custody because of not being released pending trial on any other charge.
  • Modifies how a person on intensive probation is paid. Instead of the chief adult probation officer administering the defendant’s account and making payments on behalf of the defendant, the defendant’s probation officer will monitor the defendant’s wages to ensure the collection of restitution, fees, fines and other payments.
  • Adds assessments to requirements related to consequences and garnishment for nonpayment

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