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


  • Amends definition of “poor person” to include a person who has an income at or below one hundred percent (100%) on the sliding scale of indigency established by the Supreme Court of Kentucky by rule (currently limited to “unable to pay the costs and fees of the proceeding in which he is involved without depriving himself or his dependents of the necessities of life, including food, shelter, or clothing.”)
  • Includes fines (e.g. “court costs, fees, or fines”) in list of items for which a court may establish an installment payment plan.
  • Specifies procedures to be used in creation of installment payment plan and provides priorities (“Installment payments shall be applied first to court costs, then to restitution, then to fees, and then to fines.”)
  • Requires a show cause hearing before court may respond/take action regarding nonpayment. Provides court must determine whether the nonpayment is

1) Excusable due to an inability to pay, and if so, the court may enter an order allowing additional time for payment, reducing the amount of each installment, or modifying the manner of payment in any other way; or

2) Willful and not due to an inability to pay, and if so, the court may order the defendant to jail on the condition that the defendant shall be released upon payment or completion of daily credit.

  • Allows for issuance of warrant if party fails to appear for nonpayment show cause hearing.
  • Requires that unless the defendant is incarcerated pursuant to orders in other cases, upon the service of sufficient days in jail to have sufficient credit to satisfy the court costs, fees, or fines, the defendant shall be released from jail.

Approved by Senate 2/24/17. Approved by House with House amendments 3/15/17. To Senate to concur with House amendments.