In 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Financial Justice Project, and Mayor’s Office of Budget and Public Policy studied the collateral consequences of criminal justice administrative fees on San Franciscans. Their findings were published in this report, which also coincides with 2018 San Francisco County legislation that abolished all discretionary fees imposed by the county.
This report reveals that California programs and services supported by revenue from fines and fees have been compromised by low-income motorists’ inability to pay those fines and fees.
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 prohibits Arizona courts from charging filing fees for applications to have a judgment of guilt “set aside” or to have a conviction cleared from an individual’s criminal record.
In Michigan, legislation that abolishes the state’s “driver responsibility fees” took effect on October 1, 2018. These fees were introduced in 2003 as a way to balance the state budget, and they have imposed a crushing burden on at least 350,000 drivers statewide.
California’s legislature moved to prohibit the state, cities and counties from charging defendants prosecution fees, including attorney’s fees, unless specifically authorized by state law.
This ordinance abolishes all discretionary fees imposed by San Francisco County.
This bill provides that a court cannot deny a petition to seal or expunge a criminal record simply because the individual has not satisfied outstanding court debt, and waives certain fees that apply to expungement applications.
On January 1, 2018, California became the first state to abolish all administrative fees in juvenile delinquency cases.
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.