This report is a result of a comprehensive review of New Jersey municipal courts by the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines, and Fees.
Massachusetts Senate Bill 2371, which passed in 2018, protects people from being incarcerated for their inability to pay or for nonpayment of fines and fees, prohibits indigent defendants from being charged for counsel, and allows for court-ordered monetary sanctions to be adjusted or waived.
The National Council of Juvenile Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) passed a resolution advocating for the reduction or elimination of fines and fees in juvenile courts. The resolution was published alongside a judicial bench card that outlines types of financial obligations that youth and families may encounter in juvenile and family court, details the impacts of those obligations, and explains how judges can address fines and fees in their own courtrooms. The bench card includes several practice recommendations for juvenile and family court judges.
This bill would allow courts to reduce or waive fines and fees imposed on defendants in criminal and traffic court, require courts to consider ability to pay before sentencing a defendant to pay a fine or fee, and require that traffic tickets inform recipients of the court’s ability to waive or reduce fines and fees.
This bill was proposed to enshrine Rule 26.6(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure in state law. Its provisions are nearly identical: it mandates a determination of willfulness before a court may sanction a defendant for nonpayment of fines and fees, and provides alternatives for courts when failure to pay was not willful.
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.
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.
This new court rule approves the use of two bench cards to help judges determine defendants' ability to pay at sentencing and in collections.
This bill aims to improve the fairness of the Texas criminal justice system’s response to defendants’ inability to pay fines and fees in criminal cases, particularly in traffic and city ordinance violations.
This report is based on the authors’ research on traffic courts and driver’s license suspension practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. It details how much revenue courts collect from fines and fees, the harmful impacts those fees have on low-income Californians, and also advances several policy reform recommendations.