The amount of debt owed to North Carolina’s criminal courts has increased at a staggering rate. This report gives a scope of how much debt is uncollectible, identifies the people in the state most harmed by the current system, and pinpoints the case types that yield the lion’s share of this debt.
The City of Ferguson jails people when they cannot afford to pay their traffic debt and cash bonds for other minor offenses. No inquiry is made into the person’s ability to pay, no alternatives to payment are offered to the individuals, and no counsel is provided.
Individuals must pay their unrelated LaGrange Municipal court fines and fees before gaining access to basic utility services. Further, the City charges $50 for a public defender. Unable to pay for a public defender, most people plead guilty or nolo contendere.
The policies created by Gentry’s office require people to remain incarcerated until their trial unless the person(s) posting cash bonds on their behalf sign a form acknowledging, in writing, notice of and agreement to garnishment of the cash bond deposit.
The complaint alleges Judge Jared Sigler, Judge John Gerkin, and former Judge Curtis DeLapp (Judicial Defendants) failed to conduct inquiries into individuals’ ability to pay before imposing fines and fees or before sanctioning individuals for nonpayment.
The Superior Court lacked the statutory authority to order that Hiskett bear the cost of electronic monitoring during his pretrial release.
Mark Lipski was charged with operating a vehicle with suspended registration. He requested appointed counsel, but the court advised him that he was not entitled to the assistance of appointed counsel because if convicted, he would be sentenced to pay a fine and not to serve a term of incarceration.
This class action alleges that Alabama’s driver’s license suspension practices violate equal protection and due process because people are being punished without any determination of their ability to pay.
Plaintiff-Appellees were former criminal defendants in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court (OPCDC) who pleaded guilty to various criminal defenses and were assessed fines and fees. All were arrested for failure to pay their assessed fines and fees; bond was set at $20,000 each; and, they each spent between six days and two weeks in jail. The court’s collection of fines and fees funded about one quarter of the Judicial Expense Fund (JEF); the Judges had exclusive control over how the JEF was spent and generally used it for court staff salaries as well as other administrative and maintenance expenses.
Joan Cooper is an Orlando, Florida resident whose license was suspended about six times between 2003 and 2017 for unpaid traffic tickets and court fees. Her most recent suspension from 2019 was due to lack of car insurance. Since many Florida courts do not grant payment plans, Cooper has been burdened by late fees while struggling to pay her tickets to avoid having her license suspended.