This bench card provides guidance to judges regarding the imposition and collection of court costs and fines. The benchcard provides that a person may be jailed for a willful refusal to pay fines and outlines the steps that must be taken before a court can impose a jail sentence for the nonpayment of court fines.
You can find a copy of the bench card here.
- Courts and judges should ensure that any fines, costs, and other financial sanctions are reasonable and take into account a defendant’s ability to pay.
- Ability to pay must be considered when assessing and collecting fines.
- When assessing the ability to pay courts may consider:
- Receipt of needs-based, means tested public assistance
- Financial resources
- Place of residence
- Basic living expenses
- Efforts to acquire additional resources
- Court costs are mandatory, but courts retain the right to waive, suspend or modify the payment of costs.
- A court may order the defendant to perform community service in lieu of a fine or if he fails to pay court costs. Each type of offense has a corresponding amount of maximum hours of community service that may be imposed.
- Contempt may not be imposed as a method to collect fines and courts costs.