Ohio Bench Card: Collection of Fines and Fees in Juvenile Court

The bench card provides guidance to judges on how to determine a juvenile’s ability to pay, and outlines the circumstances unique to juveniles that must be considered before punishing a youth for nonpayment of fines, costs or other financial sanctions. The text also provides guidelines for judges to use when ordering a juvenile or his family to pay restitution.  

You can find a copy of the bench card here


  • Juvenile judges should presume that young people are unable to pay fines and fees and only impose them after an affirmative showing to the contrary.
  • The use of contempt proceedings is not recommended for the nonpayment of a fine or fee and judges are directed to consider alternatives to financial sanctions, including community service. 
  • Courts should not condition participation in a diversion program or other alternatives to adjudication on the payment of a fee, if the youth or his family are unable to pay. 
  • When ordering restitution, a court must assign a definite amount that is reasonable and based on the actual economic loss the criminal conduct caused. Courts are prohibited from ordering parents to pay restitution in a delinquency proceeding; a parent may, however, be held liable through a seperate civil suit.