Why Are Court Fees so High

In Washington State, for example, there is 12% interest on the costs of crimes incurred from the time of judgment until all fines, fees, refunds, and interest are paid in full. As a result, it can be difficult for someone who is poor to make this debt disappear. A State commission found that the average number of crimes was $2,500. If someone paid a typical amount – $10 a month – and never missed a payment, their debt would continue to grow. After four years of faithful payments, the person now owes $3,000. One result, she says, is that poor people face difficult choices and sometimes the money they need to feed themselves or pay rent to pay court fees to get out of prison. In Vermilion, Lorain County, there`s an opposite approach: if you go to court, you pay a range of fees, no matter how many fees you have on your ticket. But if you give up the ticket in advance with an admission of guilt and simply write a check, you pay extra. Derogations. In some courts, judges have the power to reduce the amount of certain fees and fines imposed in the event of a conviction. footnote23_5kiroth 23 Neff: “No mercy on judges who show mercy.” Amounts that are reduced without consideration (such as community service instead of payment, or time spent in prison) are often called waivers. This is the meaning of the term as used in this report. The granting of derogations varies considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and state to state.

Benton County collects only a fraction of all fines and fees it owes. But the county still raised $13 million in 2012, making it one of the largest revenue producers in the state. Some judges and politicians – even those with a reputation for cracking down on crime – are beginning to question whether the use of fines and fees has gone too far. Colorado`s new law passed almost unanimously by Republicans and Democrats alike. The number of Americans with fines and unpaid fees is enormous. In 2011, Philadelphia courts sent bills for unpaid debts from the 1970s to more than 320,000 people, or about 1 in 5 city residents. The average debt was about $4,500. And New York City has 1.2 million outstanding arrest warrants, many for unpaid fines and court costs. While state laws dictate the distribution of funds raised by the criminal justice system, the distribution of income varies. In New Orleans, for example, the $11.5 million in criminal court fees and fines collected in 2015 was distributed among eight agencies to fund the municipal court, district court, public defenders, and traffic court.

footnote21_83qj2ku 21 Mathilde Laisne et al., Past Due: Investigating the Cost and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans, Vera Institute of Justice, 2017, 20-21, www.vera.org/publications/past-due-costs-consequences-charging-for-justice-new-orleans. In Allegan County, Michigan, half of the court-imposed fees were used to operate the district courthouse, pay employee salaries, heat the courthouse, purchase photocopiers and cover the cost of the county employee gym. footnote22_ay7zji9 22 Shapiro: “When legal costs go up, the poor pay the price. In other words, two different state laws allowed Ohio to have two different sets of rules — one that limited the multiplication of court fees in each case, the other that allowed for the multiplication of special project fees. (You can read the Supreme Court`s decision at the end of this article.) Because of the wording of the law, this applies to district courts, not mayor`s courts. Four factors will determine your legal costs: your driving history, the type of ticket, your attitude towards the officer who issued you a ticket, and the judge or traffic judge hearing your case. In Florida, a significant portion of the funds raised through fees and fines is used in the state`s general coffers. footnote9_of4ra8t 9 Florida Clerks of Court, interview. Colorado has used rising court fees to replace and modernize public buildings, including a court complex and museum.

footnote10_b63bm9z 10 Mark Harden, “Judicial complex, museum get go-ahead,” Denver Business Journal, June 4, 2008, www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2008/06/02/daily32.html?ana=from_rss.