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SB 144

In previous posts, we have written about the impact that court and probation fees can have on an individual and their families. The cost of getting in trouble with the law can be devastating, especially for people with limited income.

If someone cannot pay their fines, it can result in them incurring more penalties. If the debt is continually neglected, it can result in jail time. It’s a vicious cycle that mostly punishes people for being poor. Some lawmakers are trying to put a stop to court fees that rack Californians with debt that they are unlikely to ever be in a position to pay back.

Getting other lawmakers and voters on board with ending court fines and supervision fees is not an easy task. One way to accomplish the goal is to show how severe the problem is across the state.

Attorney Brandon Greene joined forces with Stephanie Campos-Bui, of the policy advocacy clinic at the University of California-Berkeley, to better understand the problem, Mother Jones reports. What was found is shocking!

Ending Criminal Court Fees

A close look at statutes and data shows that there are around 100 to 150 different sections of the code permitting counties to charge fees, according to the article. In San Francisco, between 2012 to 2018, over 20,000 people incurred more than $15 million in debt due to local fees. Some $12 million of that debt originated from uncollected $50 monthly probation charges.

“From booking and arrests, to representation by a public defender, to supervision on probation: At every point, someone can be charged a fee for that particular service,” said Stephanie Campos-Bui. 

The above data led officials in San Francisco to do away with local court fees and some fines, the article reports. The move took an enormous burden off of impoverished residents.

Now, Senate Bill 144 aims to do what San Francisco did, but on the state level. SB 144: Families Over Fees Act – introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell – would put a stop to many administrative fees and forgive billions in debt. The bill has already gone through the Senate and will soon be heard by the Assembly. There are no guarantees the legislation will pass.

Orange County Defense Attorney


Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are an adult who is facing criminal charges in California. Attorney Brower has decades of experience, and he can help you or a loved one achieve a favorable outcome to an unfortunate situation.

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