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

HB 1812 allows for medical necessity grace periods for payment of civil motor vehicle infractions or parking violations. Requires cities and towns immediately notify registrar of motor vehicles electronically of payments made for citations that could result in license suspension. In Joint Transportation Committee.

HB 2359

  • Prohibits judges from confining person solely for non-payment of monies owed if such person has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the person is not able to pay without causing substantial financial hardship to such person or the family or dependents thereof.
  • Provides person sentenced to pay fine, fee, etc. has a right to address the court on inability to pay.
  • Allows for waiver or reduction of various assessments, fees,  if they would cause a substantial financial hardship upon the person or the person’s family or dependents.
  • Requires court consider alternatives to incarceration before confining person for non-payment.
  • Expands use of monthly payment plans for assessments.Requires person in non-payment hearing be offered counsel and, if indigent, counsel to be offered for no fee.
  • Expands use of civil citations in lieu of arrest/criminal proceeding for misdemeanor, civil infraction, violations, etc.
  • Prohibits entirely confinement of juvenile for non-payment.

In Joint Judiciary Committee.

SB 755

  • Prohibits judges from confining person solely for non-payment of monies owed if such person has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the person is not able to pay without causing substantial financial hardship to such person or the family or dependents thereof.
  • Allows for waiver or reduction of various assessments, fees,  if they would cause a substantial financial hardship upon the person or the person’s family or dependents.
  • Requires court consider alternatives to incarceration before confining person for non-payment.
  • Provides person sentenced to pay fine, fee, etc. has a right to address the court on inability to pay.

In Joint Judiciary Committee.

SB 777

  • Prohibits judges from confining person solely for non-payment of monies owed if such person has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the person is not able to pay without causing substantial financial hardship to such person or the family or dependents thereof.
  • Provides person sentenced to pay fine, fee, etc. has a right to address the court on inability to pay.
  • Allows for waiver or reduction of various assessments, fees,  if they would cause a substantial financial hardship upon the person or the person’s family or dependents.
  • Requires court consider alternatives to incarceration before confining person for non-payment.
  • Expands use of monthly payment plans for assessments.Requires person in non-payment hearing be offered counsel and, if indigent, counsel to be offered for no fee.
  • Expands use of civil citations in lieu of arrest/criminal proceeding for misdemeanor, civil infraction, violations, etc.
  • Prohibits entirely confinement of juvenile for non-payment.

In Joint Judiciary Committee.

 

 

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

SB 120 AS APPROVED BY SENATE

  • 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.

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

SB 181 AS AMENDED AND APPROVED BY FULL SENATE

  • Authorizes the chief judge of each judicial district to recall any warrants directly related to the suspension, waive reinstatement and collection fees directly related to the suspension, and offer payment plans, to be administered by the county or district attorney, to persons who are unable to pay in full.
  • Authorizes a person unable to pay due to hardship or lack of employment to enter into an additional agreement with the court to receive a credit against any fines imposed by performing community service or attending classes aimed at developing job skills and gaining employment, as approved by the court Provides credit would be $5 for each full hour spent by the person on community service and $8 for each full hour spent attending classes.

Approved by full Senate 2/23/17. In House Judiciary Committee.

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

HB 1268 Urges the legislative council to assign to the appropriate study committee the topic of studying a traffic amnesty program to permit certain persons owing unpaid traffic fines, or who may be required to pay a fee for driver’s license reinstatement, to obtain a reduction in the amount owed or amount payable. Approved by full House 2/23/17. Approved by full Senate 3/20/17. Returned to House for transmission to Governor.

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

HB 1017 AS COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTED:

  •  Amends existing law requiring the clerk of court to enter into a payment plan with an individual whom the court determines is indigent for costs and allows clerks to enter into payment plans with anyone. Provides that the monthly payment amount may not exceed two percent of the person’s annual net income, divided by 12, without the consent of the applicant.
  • Provides clerk may not assess any surcharge to refer the account to a private attorney or collection agent.
  • Provides collection agent or private attorney may not impose any additional fees or surcharges other than the contractually agreed upon amounts.
  • Requires traffic citation forms including information indicating
    that a person may enter into a payment plan with the clerk of court to pay a penalty.
  • Requires traffic citation forms indicate that a person ordered to pay a penalty for a noncriminal traffic infraction who is unable to comply due to demonstrable financial hardship will be allowed by the court to satisfy payment by participating in community service.
  • In civil citations/failure to appear, provides person’s driver license may not be suspended solely for failure to pay a penalty if the person demonstrates to the court that he or she is unable to pay, as evidenced by the person providing documentation to the appropriate clerk of court.
    1. The person receives reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation;
    2. The person is disabled and incapable of self-support or receives benefits under the federal Supplemental Security Income program or the Social Security Disability Insurance Program;
    3. The person receives temporary cash assistance;
    4. The person is making payments in accordance with a confirmed bankruptcy plan under chapter 11, chapter 12, or chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code;
    5. The person has been placed on a payment plan or payment plans with the clerk of court which in total exceed what is determined to be a reasonable payment plan; or
    6. The person has been determined to be indigent after filing an application with the clerk of court
  • In criminal cases, may not be suspended solely for failure to pay a penalty or court obligation if the person demonstrates to the court, after the court orders the penalty or obligation and before the suspension takes place, that he or she is unable to pay the penalty or court obligation. Specifies documentation (same as civil citations/failure to appear list, above) that demonstrates person is considered unable to pay to include
  • For traffic infractions, requires court to determine at the time a civil penalty is ordered whether the person is able to pay the penalty.

Approved by House Appropriation’s Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee 3/14/17.

HB 547

Requires specified reduction for civil penalty under certain circumstances. Deletes requirement that specified percentage of civil penalty be deposited in State Courts Revenue Trust Fund. Requires person to pay clerk of court specified percentage previously deducted under certain circumstances. In House Appropriation’s Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.

HB 1173 AS APPROVED IN SUBCOMMITTEE

  • Requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to immediately suspend the motor vehicle registration for the first offense of failing to comply with a civil traffic infraction.
  • Keeps the existing driver license suspension penalty for a subsequent offense.
  • Allows the clerk of the court to authorize community service for indigent applicants for noncriminal traffic infractions and provides guidelines for authorizing community service. Courts can currently authorize community service if a person shows demonstrable financial hardship.

Approved by House Appropriation’s Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee 3/21/17.

SB 302 AS COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTED

  • Removes suspension and revocation penalties for a number of specified non-driving-related offenses
  • Allows individuals whose licenses are suspended for failure to comply with a court order or failure to pay court financial obligations to apply for a hardship license issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • Requires the court to inquire about a person’s financial ability to pay a fine at the time a civil penalty is ordered in court
  • Prohibits a Driver’s License (DL) from being suspended solely for inability to pay a financial penalty or court obligation if the individual demonstrates to the court that he or she cannot pay
  • Adds criteria of what evidence demonstrates to the court that a person is unable to pay
    1. The person receives reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation;
    2. The person is disabled and incapable of self-support or receives benefits under the federal Supplemental Security Income program or the Social Security Disability Insurance Program;
    3. The person receives temporary cash assistance;
    4. The person is making payments in accordance with a confirmed bankruptcy plan under chapter 11, chapter 12, or chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code;
    5. The person has been placed on a payment plan or payment plans with the clerk of court which in total exceed what is determined to be a reasonable payment plan; or
    6. The person has been determined to be indigent after filing an application with the clerk of court
  • Prohibits court-approved payment plans from exceeding two percent of an applicant’s income, unless approved by the applicant

Approved as substituted by Senate Transportation Committee 2/7/17.

SB 1574 See HB 1173 as filed. In Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

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

HB 1162 Repeals the current penalties (cancellation of driver’s license, inability to receive new license, inability to renew license) for failing to appear at a hearing or failing to pay the fine for certain traffic infractions. Provides the courts with the option of withholding a driver’s state income tax refund in order to satisfy an outstanding judgment. In House Judiciary Committee.

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

AB 412 AS AMENDED BY AUTHOR

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.

SB 185 AS AMENDED BY AUTHOR

  • 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.

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

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

HB 1909 Provides a warrant shall not be issued for failure to pay court-ordered fees, fines, or costs where the person is incarcerated or hospitalized. In House Judiciary Committee

HB 2112 Provides a warrant shall not be issued for failure to pay court-ordered fees, fines, or costs where the person is incarcerated or hospitalized. In House Judiciary Committee

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

HB 380 Authorizes any municipal court judge to remit fines, court costs, fees, payments, and other charges in cases where the court determines that a defendant cannot afford to pay the full amount that would otherwise be required by law. In House Judiciary Committee.

SB 36Fairness in Enforcement of Fines and Fees Act.” In Senate Judiciary Committee.

Prohibits a person from being incarcerated for nonpayment of fines or fees without a prior indigency determination and would provide the person with certain notifications.

Requires a person charged with a traffic violation or minor misdemeanor be provided with adequate information, including the charges against him or her and the options he or she has for resolving the charges.

Requires a court to proportion all fines, fees, and costs imposed by the court when a sufficient showing of indigency has been made and would require the court to consider alternative sentencing, such as payment plan options or community service in lieu of paying fines and fees.

Requires notice regarding the waiver of posting certain bonds based on the inability to pay and would require meaningful notice and adequate representation, including counsel, in cases where the enforcement of fines and fees could result in imprisonment.

Prohibits the use of arrest warrants as a means of coercing payment of a court debt and prohibit arrest warrants from being issued in response to the inability of a person to pay a fine or fee.

Provides that if a defendant fails to make a court appearance the court would have to conduct a hearing on why a warrant should not be issued and include an assessment of the ability of the person to pay any pending fine or fee.

Provides that the failure of a person to appear or pay a fine in a case involving a traffic violation or minor misdemeanor may not be grounds for suspension of the driver’s license of the person and would provide for immediate reinstatement of the driver’s license of any person whose driver’s license has been suspended for failing to appear or pay a fine in such cases.

Requires a municipality to ensure the sufficient independence of its municipal judges to avoid impropriety and existing or potential conflicts of interest.

Requires courts and municipal or other governmental entities to provide appropriate training on safeguarding against unconstitutional practices by its staff and private contractors.

SB 37 Authorizes courts to order deferred or installment payments or community service for traffic violations and misdemeanors. Prohibits court from suspending driver’s license for failure to appear or pay fines or court costs. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 38 Authorizes courts to order deferred or installment payments or community service for traffic violations and misdemeanors. Prohibits court from suspending driver’s license for failure to appear or pay fines or court costs if violator making payments. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 39 Requires courts consider alternatives to incarceration for defendants unable to pay fines or court fees, to provide notice when enforcing fines and court fees, and to safeguard against unconstitutional practices by court staff and private contractors. Prohibits courts from incarcerating a person for nonpayment of fines or court fees without first conducting an indigency determination and establishing that the failure to pay was willful; from conditioning access to a judicial hearing on the prepayment of fines or court fees; from using arrest warrants or driver’s license suspension as a means of coercing the payment of court debt when individuals have not been afforded constitutionally adequate procedural protections; and from employing bail or bond practices that cause defendants to remain incarcerated solely because they cannot afford to pay for their release. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 42  Prohibits suspension of driver’s license for for failure to pay fines, fees, or court costs. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 162 Prohibits suspension or revocation of driver’s license for for failure or inability to pay fines, fees, or court costs. In Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 281 Authorizes any municipal court judge to remit fines, court costs, fees, payments, and other charges in cases where the court determines that a defendant cannot afford to pay the full amount that would otherwise be required by law. In Senate Judiciary Committee.