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Florida SB 1270: Penalties And Fees… prohibiting the suspension of a person’s driver license solely for failure to pay certain financial obligations…

This 2018 bill - which did not pass - marks the third consecutive year that Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) introduced legislation to end driver’s license suspension for nonpayment of fines and fees in Florida. This bill would also have required courts to provide reasonable payment alternatives for poor defendants, including payment plans and performing community service to pay fines.

Mecklenburg County District Court Bench Cards

The Mecklenburg County working group requested the assistance of Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program, which helped the group develop two bench cards. One bench card provides guidance for judges when imposing fines and fees; the other outlines a process for sanctioning defendants who fail to pay fines and fees.

Gina Harper et al. v. Professional Probation Services Inc. et al.

Defendants in the Gardendale Municipal Court are placed on probation when they are unable to pay court fines and fees in full. Professional Probation Services, Inc. (PPS) is the sole probation provider through a contract with the City and the Municipal Court judge. PPS charges a $40 monthly fee which is paid before the court’s fines and fees.

People v. Duenas

Velia Duenas, a homeless, married mother of two children, had her license suspended because she was unable to pay $1088 for three juvenile citations. She continued to drive, received three misdemeanor convictions, and spent 141 days in jail because she was unable to pay the fines.

Commonwealth v. Smetana

Appellant was held in contempt and incarcerated for failure to pay his court fines and fees without any inquiry into his ability to pay. The appellant mentioned that his sibling may be able to pay, but no further inquiry was made by the court. He was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment with credit for time served and a $200 fee to purge the contempt.
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