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Below are the attorney general opinions that meet your search criteria.
|State||Citation||Description/Statute Name||Question||Brief answer||Language from the opinion||When does the case apply?|
|Louisiana||Op. Att'y Gen. No. 97-237 (June 18, 1997)||Uniform eligibility criteria for indigency standards||Does allowing different municipalities to set their own indigency standards or fines/fees violate the equal protection afforded by the state’s constitution?||Unclear, but different municipalities are required by statute to have the same standards||
(d) uniform eligibility criteria for determining indigency and the eligibility of defendants to qualify for indigent defender representation at the district and state level;(citing language from statute creating the Louisiana+ See more
|Ability to pay|
|Louisiana||Op. Att'y Gen. No. 95-449 (Nov. 8, 1995)||Collection contracts with private vendors||Which fines and/or fees may be collected by a private vendor?||no stated limit||
You have requested our opinion as to whether it is permissible for the Sheriff, with the formal approval of the District Court, to enter into such an agreement. If so,+ See more
you ask whether the public bid laws apply in procuring the services of a collection agency. We have reviewed the constitutional and statutory provisions relating to the powers and duties of sheriffs and can find nothing that would prohibit the Sheriff from entering into such an agreement. Our opinion is predicated upon the concurrence to the agreement of all parties enumerated hereinabove, and a formal order of the District Court Judge authorizing the contract and the percentage and/or fee to be retained by the collection agency. As discussed, this opinion is limited to only those fines that have been previously assessed, are currently delinquent and which you have been unable to collect. While a contract for the services of a collection agency are not required to be publicly bid by the Sheriff, we recommend that you solicit several proposals to ensure the confection of a contract that is most favorable to your office.
|Louisiana||Op. Att'y Gen. No. 83-183 (June 17, 1983)||Court's authority to impose costs||Other applicable opinions||
It is well settled that the recovery and allowance of costs in criminal prosecutions is dependent entirely on statutory provisions. Absent statutory authority, a court has no power to award+ See more
costs against a defendant on conviction. See C. J. S. Costs Section 435, 437. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 83-183 (June 17, 1983)
|Fines and fees|
|Montana||49 Mont. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 18, 2002 WL 1009805||Montana-Attorney General opinion||What authority do county or municipal courts have to set fines or fees?||
The Montana Constitution and Montana law authorize amunicipal court judge to release a defendant on a time-pay bail bond, defined as a bond in an amount set by the judge to be+ See more
paid in installments.
If the court finds some form of bail necessary, however, Mont. Code Ann. § 46-9-301, provides more specific factors for a court to consider. These factors include, among other matters+ See more
not related to the safety of the victim and the community, that the amount shall be not oppressive, and that the amount shall be considerate of the financial ability of the accused. Id., §§ 46-9-301(4) and (6). The time-pay bail bonds system comports with these requirements.The Montana Constitution and Montana law authorize a municipal court judge to release a defendant on a time-pay bail bond, defined as a bond in an amount set by the judge to be paid in installments.
|Ability to pay|
|Montana||41 Mont. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 59||Montana-Attorney General opinion||Other applicable opinions||Cash bail for minor offenses may be increased to include applicable surcharges||
In order to collect the additional $10 charge required by section 46-18-236, MCA, a court may exercise its power under section 46-9-302, MCA, and increase the bail schedule for minor+ See more
offenses in a like amount.
|Tennessee||Bradford v. Bradford, No. 86-262-II, 1986 WL 2874, at *5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 7, 1986); Daniels v. Grimac, 342 S.W.3d 511, 517 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2010)||Case law||
Are the same procedural protections that are required in criminal proceedings required in civil collection/contempt proceedings arising from criminal justice debt when those proceedings may result in incarceration? What if+ See more
the proceedings may only result in additional fines or non-incarceration penalties?
|Courts have recognzied that defendants are entitled to counsel, an opportunity to be heard, and notice in civil proceedings which may result in incarceration.||
We are of the opinion that in light of Lassiter, due process mandates that an indigent defendant has the right to be represented by counsel at a contempt proceeding whether+ See more
it be called civil or criminal if the indigent defendant faces the loss of his freedom. Indirect contempt arises from acts committed out of the presence of the court, and cannot be punished unless the accused has been given the due process protections of notice and an opportunity to be heard.
|Tennessee||Cf. Tenn. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 89-03 (Jan. 12, 1989)||Imprisonment for Contempt of Non-Payment of Fines||Does allowing different municipalities to set their own indigency standards or fines/fees violate the equal protection afforded by the states constitution?||Municipalities can set their own standards as long as the standards comply with constitutional and statutory protections||
"The municipal charter provides that the city court may imprison a party for up to ten days for violation of city ordinances, and the city council has passed a resolution+ See more
to this effect.It appears that the municipal provision outlined above complies with the procedures described in T.C.A. § 4024104, as well as constitutional safeguards, for determination of the defendant's ability to pay, thereby giving rise to an inference of willful disobedience and contempt of court where there has been a subsequent missed payment without notice of good cause to the court."
|Ability to pay|
|Tennessee||See Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-24-105(d)(1)||Collection; fines, costs and litigation taxes; license revocation||Which fines and/or fees may be collected by a private vendor?||Statutory law provides that all fines and fees may be collected by a private vendor when a defendant has been in default for more than six months.||
"After a fine, costs, or litigation taxes have been in default for at least six (6) months, the district attorney general or criminal or general sessions court clerk may retain+ See more
an agent to collect, or institute proceedings to collect, or establish an in-house collection procedure to collect, fines, costs and litigation taxes."
|Tennessee||Tenn. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 89-104 (Aug. 17, 1989) (citing State ex rel. Wright v. Upchurch, 254 S.W.2d 748, 749 (Tenn. 1953))||Whether a Defendant Found in Willful Contempt of Court for Failure to Pay Child Support May Be Incarcerated Where He Lacks the Present Ability to Pay the Arrearage.||Who has the burden of proof in an ability to pay determination? What is the standard of proof required?||At least in civil contempt proceedings, the burden of proof is on the defendant.||
"In any case, the inability to pay is an affirmative defense to a petition for civil contempt and the burden of proof is on the defendant to establish his inability+ See more
|Ability to pay|
|Tennessee||Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-24-104; Tenn. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 89-03 (Jan. 12, 1989)||Imprisonment for Contempt for NonPayment of Fines||Should ability to pay be considered when imposing fines or fees or only when collecting fines or fees?||Statutory law provides that ability to pay must be considered when collecting fines, but at least some courts consider ability to pay when imposing fines and fees as well.||
If the defendant fails to pay the fine as directed, or is unable to pay the fine and so represents upon application to the court, the court, after inquiring into+ See more
and making further investigation, if any, which it may deem necessary with regard to the defendant's financial and family situation and the reasons for nonpayment of the fine, including whether the nonpayment was contumacious or was due to indigency, may enter any order that it could have entered under § 40-24-101, or may reduce the fine to an amount that the defendant is able to pay, or may direct that the defendant be imprisoned until the fine, or any portion of it, remaining unpaid or remaining undischarged after a pro rata credit for any time that may already have been served in lieu of payments, is paid. The court shall determine and specify, in the light of defendant's situation and means and of defendant's conduct with regard to the nonpayment of the fine, the period of any imprisonment in default of payment of the fine within the limits of the penalties for a Class C misdemeanor. In the instant situation, the following circumstances form the factual basis resulting in the issuance of a capias for contempt of court: When a fine is imposed, a hearing is held at the same time to determine the defendant's ability to pay. If it appears that defendant cannot pay, the case is continued for several months to see if circumstances change during that time. If the court determines that defendant is able to pay or to make payments, a payment schedule is set up. Defendant is instructed at that time to notify the court if any emergency comes up and, if so, the court will consider defendant's excuse. If defendant thereafter misses a payment and has not notified the court, then a capias is issued for his arrest for contempt of court, since there has already been a finding that that defendant is able to pay.
|Ability to pay|
|Tennessee||Town of Nolensville v. King, 151 S.W.3d 427, 433 (Tenn. 2004); TN Const. Art. 6, § 14;||case law||What authority do county or municipal courts have to set fines or fees?||The Tennessee constitution does not allow a county or municipal court to set a fine or fee greater than $50 without a trial by jury.||
"Accordingly, for the reasons stated herein, we hold that Article VI, section 14 of the Tennessee Constitution prohibits a municipal court judge from imposing fines in excess of fifty dollars+ See more
for a violation of a municipal ordinance, absent a valid waiver of the defendant's Article VI, section 14 right."
|Fines and fees|
|Tennessee||Corum v. Holston Health & Rehab. Ctr., 104 S.W.3d 451, 454 (Tenn. 2003)||case law||What authority does the state supreme court have to impose binding state-wide rules on the imposition or collection of fees and fines?||The state supreme court has the power to impose rules which govern the practice and procedure of the lower courts.||
"[I]t is well settled that the Tennessee Supreme Court has the inherent power to promulgate rules governing the practice and procedure of the courts of this state. This inherent power+ See more
exists by virtue of the establishment of a Court and not by largess of the legislature"
|Tennessee||State v. Smith, No. C.C.A. 86-121-III, 1986 WL 10893 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 3, 1986)||case law||Under what circumstances does a conflict of interest in the imposition or enforcement of court debt violate state law?||This has not been explicitly addressed by courts. However, in the right-to-counsel context, Tennesee generally recognizes that conflicts of interests should be avoided where they are likely to occur.||
Unless it appears that there is good cause to believe no conflict of interest is likely to arise, the court shall take such measures as may be appropriate to protect+ See more
each defendant's right to counsel.
|Washington||Wash. Att'y Gen. Op. 1993 NO. 11 (1993)||Ability to pay - considered at imposition and collection of fines and fees||Should ability to pay be considered when imposing fines or fees or only when collecting fines or fees?||They must be considered both when imposing and collecting fines and fees||
[A] county considering an ordinance authorizing a court to impose a multiple booking fee as part of a criminal sentence should heed constitutional considerations relating to the offender's ability to+ See more
pay the fee. Some statutes providing for the repayment of costs incurred on behalf of a criminal defendant, also known as recoupment statutes, have been challenged as unconstitutional. The courts generally have upheld these statutes, provided that they contain certain safeguards. As set forth in Fuller v. Oregon, 417 U.S. 40, 40 L.Ed.2d 642, 94 S.Ct. 2116 (1974), and summarized in State v. Earls, 51 Wn.App. 192, 19596, 752 P.2d 402 (1988), the safeguards are:(1) The requirement of repayment must not be mandatory;(2) Repayment may be imposed only upon convicted defendants;(3) Repayment may only be ordered if the defendant is or will be able to pay;(4) The financial resources of the defendant must be taken into consideration;(5) A repayment obligation may not be imposed if it appears there is no likelihood the defendant's indigency will end;(6) The convicted person must be permitted to petition the court for remission of the payment of costs or any unpaid portion thereof;(7) The convicted person cannot be held in contempt for failure to repay if the default was not attributable to an intentional refusal to obey the court order or a failure to make a good faith effort to make repayment.
|Washington||Wash. Att'y Gen. Op. 1993 NO. 11 (1993)||Authority to set fines/fees||What authority do county or municipal courts have to set fines or fees?||Counties are given extensive freedoms to set fines and fees for municipal violations, but cannot do so in fields in which the state preempts||
Counties have broad authority under article 11, section 11 of the state constitution to act in furtherance of their police power. That section provides: Any county, city, town or township+ See more
may make and enforce within its limits all such local police, sanitary and other regulations as are not in conflict with general laws. The State Supreme Court has described this provision as follows: This is a direct delegation of the police power as ample within its limits as that possessed by the legislature itself. It requires no legislative sanction for its exercise so long as the subject-matter is local, and the regulation reasonable and consistent with the general laws. Bellingham v. Schampera, 57 Wn.2d 106, 109, 356 P.2d 292 (1960); see also Brown v. Yakima, 116 Wn.2d 556, 559, 807 P.2d 353 (1991).Under this provision, counties may enact ordinances regarding all those measures which bear a reasonable and substantial relation to promotion of the general welfare of the people. State v. Seattle, 94 Wn.2d 162, 165, 615 P.2d 461 (1980). County ordinances prescribing local offenses and punishments for them would constitute police power measures of the county under article 11, section 11 of the Washington Constitution. Such county ordinances may not, however, conflict with state laws. The courts have interpreted this to mean that counties may not legislate in a particular area when the state has preempted the field, or when the county legislation and state legislation on the same subject cannot be harmonized. Brown, 116 Wn.2d at 559.
|Washington||See answer for 8 above||Washington-Attorney General opinion||What authority does the state supreme court have to impose binding state-wide rules on the imposition or collection of fees and fines?||See answer for 8 above||See answer for 8 above|
|Washington||Not answered||Washington-Attorney General opinion||Under what circumstances does a conflict of interest in the imposition or enforcement of court debt violate state law?||Not answered||Not answered|