Fines, Costs, and Fees

Resource Guide

With the courts’ effectiveness in collecting various fines and costs that are assessed against civil litigants and criminal defendants are important for reasons of revenue, the enforcement of such obligations is even more essential to the integrity of the courts. The major collection challenges courts face involve fines and associated surcharges that courts impose at the time of judgment, often resulting in the scrutiny of court performance during election campaigns and budget decisions.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


General

Nial Raaen, et al. Study of the Effectiveness of Collections in the Florida Courts. (2012).

The focus of this report is to assess the effectiveness of the Florida State Courts System in the collection of court-ordered financial obligations.  Actual collection rate data is included.

California's Enhanced Collections Unit.

The California's Enhanced Collections Unit report, which includes a performance target for the collection efforts of courts to be considered successful.

Reynolds, Carl Courts Are Not Revenue Centers: 2011-2012 Policy Paper.

This work by the Conference of State Court Administrators is a comprehensive set of standards designed to help ensure that court fees are used to support court related functions and are not just an another form of taxation.

Gary E. Jackson, Judge Collecting Delinquent Fines . (2011). This paper is a practical approach to collecting delinquent fines by a sitting judge in the Atlanta Municipal Court.  Although the citations are state specific to Georgia, the general methodology used by Judge Jackson could be employed by many jurisdictions. Exhibit referenced in the article can be viewed here.
Report on the Results of the Arizona Judiciary Pilot Collections Project. (2011). This report describes a temporary fine reduction program, or partial amnesty program.  The report concludes that the program is not fiscally justifiable due to the operational costs of the fine reduction.
Budget Resource Center: Fines and Fees.

This page provides information on court collections of fines and fees, as well as relevant articles and websites.

Civil Filing Fee Chart.

This is a civil filing fee chart which provides basic comparative information on filing fees and was last updated April, 2012. The actual filing fees paid by litigants will likely be substantially higher as this chart does not include "add on" fees, for example service of process charges.

Appellate Filing Fee Chart.

This is an appellate filing fee chart which provides basic comparative information on filing fees and was last updated April, 2012.

Collection of Monetary Penalties.

Measure 7 of CourTools is a framework for courts to monitor their performance handling collections activities so that they may improve their operations.

Laura Klaversma. Courts and Collections. (2008). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2008.

State courts are being called upon to improve their collection of fines and fees.  Four states provide good examples of courts working in partnership with each other and the private sector to improve collections.  Collections of Fines and Costs Module.

John Matthias and Laura Klaversma. Current Practices in Collecting fines and Fees in State Courts. (2009).

This is the definitive handbook on collections practices for state courts.

UK Ministry of Justice Fine Payment Work Process Study. (2010).

The British Courts Act 2003 made provision for people from whom their fines could not be recovered by any of the normal means to work off the outstanding financial penalty by undertaking unpaid work. This arrangement, called Fine Payment Work (FPW), was initially piloted in five court areas in 2004 (Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, and South Yorkshire), later extended to South Wales in 2007 and Cleveland in 2008. The aims of Fine Payment Work were to improve fine enforcement and the credibility of the use of the fine as a legitimate option.

Fines and Fees Collection System Vendors.

This is a listing of vendors providing services for fines and fees collections.

Budgeting and Financial Administration.

As dollars for the court system become harder to come by from funding sources, every dollar must work as hard as it can for your operation. The Court Consulting Services can help your court increase information on which to base critical financial decisions and maximize court revenues.

A Framework to Improve How Fines, Fees, Restitution, and Child Support are Assessed and Collected from People Convicted of Crimes. (March 2009). This report describes how fines, fees, and restitution are assessed in criminal courts in Texas, how these court-ordered financial obligations are collected, and how these ssessments and collections account for child support that defendants may already owe. This report reviews the challenges court officials encounter under the current system and recommends strategies to clarify and streamline existing policies.
Craig Nielson and Steve Ard Use of Workflow Automation and Other Technologies to Improve Compliance and Collections. (2009). This is a presentation from the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the National Court Technology Conference that reviews the multitudes of options courts have to improve court-order enforcement and financial compliance.
A Caseworker`s Guide to Child Support Enforcement and Military Personnel. (2000). Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement This guide assists child-support-enforcement caseworkers when one of the parents in a case is an active duty member of the armed services. This guide identifies and discusses tools other child-support workers have used successfully to cope with some of the most common difficulties in child-support-enforcement cases involving military personnel. 
Lynch, Brian, William Brousseau, and George Cole. Compliance with Judicial Orders: Methods of Collecting and Enforcing Monetary Sanctions. (1991). Washington Project Office.

Monetary sanctions are used as a type of alternative sentence to deal with overcrowding jails and overwhelming caseloads. This monograph discusses the role of sentencing in gaining compliance as well as eight collection techniques in Virginia.