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Hernandez et al. v. California DMV

Alameda County Court informed the California Department of Motor Vehicles when someone failed to pay their traffic debt. Failure to pay resulted in the suspension of the person’s driver’s license.

Confronting Criminal Justice Debt: A Guide for Policy Reform

This Guide for Policy Reform by Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program is organized into four issue areas: conflicts of interest, poverty penalties and poverty traps (when people are forced to pay more or face harsher sanctions because of their poverty), the ability-to-pay determination, and transparency and accountability. Under each of these sections, a description of the problem is followed by legislative, judicial, and executive reform suggestions for people at the state level to use and incorporate into their efforts.

Dade v. City of Sherwood

Plaintiffs alleged that the Sherwood’s “hot check” court routinely jailed indigent persons unable to pay court fines and fees without inquiry into their ability to pay.

Rivera v. Orange County Probation

Orange County Probation Department sent a bill of $16,372 to a juvenile’s mother for reimbursement of reasonable costs of support while her son was in detention. The County sought $23.90 for each day of detention and $2199 in legal expenses. Doing her best to pay the debt, Rivera sold her house and paid $9508. Unable to pay the rest, she was served, and a default judgment of $9905 was issued against her for failure to appear. Ms. Rivera eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Alvarado v. Superior Court of California

The Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles referred people who owed court fines and fees for traffic tickets to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) without any inquiry into the individual’s ability to pay. A referral to the DMV resulted in the suspension of the person’s driver’s license.

Stinnie v. Holcomb

This case challenges the constitutionality of a Virginia statute that requires the automatic suspension of the driver’s licenses of people who fail to pay court fines and fees.
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