In 2017, 44,889 failure to pay capias issued for people who did not pay a fine, fee, cost, assessment, or restitution imposed for a non-felony offense. In the first 6 months of 2018, there were a total of 5,807 admissions to detention at all Level V facilities. Of these admissions, 129 were for failure to pay only and 595 were for failure to pay and another charge. When a capias is issued for nonpayment of a fine, courts currently may and do impose fees to cancel the warrant. When defendants are late paying their fines, the courts’ clerks also must forward the defendant’s name to the Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles for license suspension. This Act prohibits a court or the Department of Transportation from suspending a driver’s license for nonpayment of a fine, fee, cost, assessment, or restitution and from charging a penalty, assessment, or fee to a defendant for the cancellation of a warrant issued due to the defendant’s nonpayment of a fine, fee, cost, assessment, or restitution. This Act also prohibits a court from imposing an additional fee on a defendant for payments that are made at designated periodic intervals or late, or when probation is ordered to supervise a defendant’s payment. Nothing in this Act precludes the court from filing contempt charges against defendants who willfully fail to pay their fines imposed after their ability to pay hearing. Further, this Act permits a court, before imposing a fine, fee, cost, or assessment, to consider a defendant’s ability to pay the fine, fee, costs, or assessment, whether an adult or a juvenile, is able to pay the fine, fee, cost, or assessment. This Act also provides the courts with discretion to waive, modify, suspend, costs, assessments, fines, and fees even if otherwise deemed mandatory by the Code. Additionally, this Act requires state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies and volunteer ambulance companies to calculate and report the total sum they receive from fines, fees, costs, assessments and restitution and make a public report of these totals. This Act also creates the Criminal Legal System Imposed Debt Study Group to review the impact court imposed financial obligations have on defendants and survivors of crime and make recommendations to promote access, fairness, and transparency in the imposition and collection of court imposed financial obligations. Finally, this Act makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
SB 39: Relating to Fines and Fees in the Criminal Justice System
Sen. Brown (Prime), Sen. McBride, Sen. Townsend, Rep. Griffith, Rep. Longhurst, Rep. Dorsey Walker, Rep. Lynn. See bill number link for full list of co-sponsors.
In Committee: Senate Judicial
150th General Assembly