Report to the Legislature: Online Infraction Adjudication and Ability-to-Pay Determinations

This report uses data from California courts that have adopted the MyCitations tool to evaluate the pilot program. As of January 1, 2023, over 66,000 ability-to-pay requests were submitted through the tool accounting for over $20 million in reduced fines and fees. The analysis demonstrates an increase in repayment success when litigants are ordered to pay less. 

Read the full report here.

Key Findings:

  • 16 courts currently offer online ability-to-pay requests through MyCitations. 
  • Cases granted a reduction through the tool have a 61 percent success rate for full repayment; cases denied relief through the tool have a 29 percent success rate.
  • The proportion of cases that successfully repay their infraction debt increases as the amount ordered decreases. Collections nearly double for cases ordered to pay $300 or less and reducing fines and fees to $300 or less for low-income litigants results in successful repayment rates of 65 percent or greater. 
  • As the amount ordered consumes more of a litigant’s monthly income, success rates decline; successful repayment drops by nearly one fifth once the amount ordered is greater than 20 percent of a litigant’s monthly income.  
  • The total amount a litigant is ordered to pay monthly is strongly associated with successful case outcomes. The estimated success rate for cases with $25 payment plans is 48.2 percent compared to 27 percent for $50 payment plans. 
  • Of the 66,821 requests submitted through MyCitations, 46 of litigants reported receiving some type of public benefit and 88 percent reported incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. 
  • 84 percent of MyCitations requests were approved for at least one of the four types of relief offered through the tool: reduction, payment plan, community service, or more time to pay; reduction and payment plans are the most common.