Crime doesn’t pay, but it costs a lot! Those who find themselves on the windy side of the law and are found guilty are subject to more than just jail and prison time. They often have to pay for the costs of their incarceration, court fees, fines, and victim restitution. While the latter can be justified easily, for most people guilty of crimes, fees and penalties can be severely detrimental for loved ones and inmates alike.
Last year, we covered Senate Bill 144: Families Over Fees Act, legislation that would put a stop to many administrative fees and forgive billions in debt. Many people are unaware that a failure to pay court administrative fees can be a violation that results in jail time. The legal system disproportionately impacts people with limited financial resources.
SB 144 – introduced by Senator Holly Mitchell – came in the wake of a move by San Francisco lawmakers that did away with local court fees and some fines. Now, four counties in California have passed similar legislation, including Los Angeles County. The ban may be applied statewide if SB 144 is approved and signed into law by the governor.
“We are further hampering an already fragile family or community economically,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell.
Eliminating Criminal Fees in Los Angeles
Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to end all criminal administrative fees, ABC 10 reports. The action will lighten the financial burden on millions of former inmates.
A report showed that the county was meant to collect an average of $121 million in fines and fees each year since 2014, according to the county’s Chief Executive Office. However, LA County only collected about $11.4 million annually or 9%.
“Most of the people who have contact with the criminal justice system are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-wrote the measure. “It’s most definitely not the purpose of the justice system to punish poor people for their poverty.”
In the past two years, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, have passed measures that eliminate criminal fees. It’s worth noting that such measures do not apply to restitution or fees and fines required by state law.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing legal trouble in Orange County, California, then please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. Attorney Brower has a long reputation for successfully defending clients and helping them achieve favorable outcomes. With more than 30 years of experience, you can expect the best legal representation available.