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


Modifies existing law that authorizes the court, in addition to any other penalty in an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony case, to impose a civil assessment of up to $300 against any defendant who fails, after notice and without good cause, to appear in court for any proceeding authorized by law, or who fails to pay all or any portion of a fine ordered by the court or to pay an installment of bail.

  • Provides that the assessment shall not become effective until at least 60 days after the court mails a warning notice to the defendant.
  • Requires court to vacate a civil assessment if the underlying charge is dismissed, refund any payments made by a defendant towards that assessment, and terminate any collection action.
  • Requires the court to vacate a civil assessment imposed pursuant to those provisions, if the defendant certifies that he or she had good cause to not appear or not pay a fine, or is unable to pay the assessment.
  • Requires court to allow a defendant to file a motion to vacate a civil assessment at any time.
  • Requires court to include a form to petition the court to vacate a civil assessment with any notice of or request to pay the civil assessment.

Approved as amended by Assembly Public Safety Committee 3/21/17.


  • Requires require the court, in any case involving an infraction, filed with the court, to determine whether the defendant is indigent for purposes of determining what portion of the statutory amount of any associated fine, fee, assessment, or other financial penalties the person can afford to pay.
  • Provides that the defendant can demonstrate that he or she is indigent by providing specified information, including attesting to his or her indigent status under penalty of perjury.
  • Requires the court to reduce the base fine and associated fees by 80% if the court establishes that the defendant is indigent, and to provide alternatives to immediate payment of the sentence, including a payment plan option.
  • Requires the court to determine the amount a defendant can afford to pay per month by using a payment calculator developed by the Judicial Council.
  • Requires for persons not found to be indigent that the monthly payment not exceed 5% of the defendant’s family monthly income, as provided.
  • Requires for defendants found to be indigent monthly payments be $0 until the defendant’s financial circumstances change, and would require the remaining amount owed to be discharged after 48 months in the interest of justice.
  • Deletes initiating suspensions or holds for driver’s licenses from the list of activities a court or court’s comprehensive collection program may engage in. Requires the program to provide a payment plan option based on the debtor’s ability to pay and requires the program to notify the defendant of his or her right to an indigency determination for Vehicle Code infractions.
  • Provides court to issue a notice to the defendant that he or she must appear in court within 60 days, as specified, if the person has failed to appear, and authorizes the court to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles only when the defendant does not appear within those 60 days.
  • Repeals provisions authorizing the court to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of a failure to pay a fine or bail.
  • Repeals certain provisions prohibiting the Department of Motor Vehicles from issuing or renewing a person’s driver’s license upon receipt of a notice of a defendant’s failure to pay, with respect to designated violations.

In Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.