When Delawareans face court-ordered fines and fees, many are unable to pay the amount they’ve been assigned. This can begin a “debt spiral,” leading from fines and fees to incarceration to more court-ordered debts.

HB 244 would eliminate a number of fines and fees, and would also prohibit the Division of Motor Vehicles from suspending driver’s licenses as a penalty for nonpayment of a fine, fee, costs, assessment, or restitution.

Here are some of HB 244's key provisions:

  • Repeals authority of the court to order a parent to pay for the care of a child during the period of placement if they refuse to take custody pending adjudication of that child. 

  • Compensation for the services of appointed counsel may not be assessed against the juvenile or their parent, guardian, or custodian.

  • Permits the court to order a child to complete Community Service in lieu of a fine. 

  • If a defendant is sentenced to a period of probation and ordered to pay a fine, fee, costs or assessment, the court may  not make the payment a condition of the probation. 

  • Prohibits the court from issuing an additional fee for:

    • A payment plan

    • Late payments

    • Supervision by probation of the payment of a fine, fee, costs, assessment or restitution

    • Interest for payment of a fine, fee, costs, assessment or restitution that is made late or at designated periodic intervals 

  • Permits courts to waive, suspend, modify payment of any fine, fee, costs, or assessment.

  • Requires the court to advise a defendant on the record in writing of the financial obligations and sanctions for noncompliance.

Sponsors

Sen. Brown; Reps. Longhurst, Dorsey Walker, S. Moore; Sen. Gay, Lockman, S. McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon; Reps. Baumbach, Brady, Chukwuocha, Heffernan, K. Johnson, Kowalko, Morrison, Smyk, Wilson-Anton

Status

Out of Committee: Ready for House Consideration

Session

151st General Assembly

Bill number

Position

Support