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|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|
|Alabama||Ala. Att'y Gen. Op. 2003-086||Alabama-Attorney General opinion||
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?
|An indigent defendant facing contempt proceedings where he is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, which is suspended, is entitled to the appointment of counsel pursuant to Alabama v. Shelton.||
Under Alabama v. Shelton, 122 S. Ct. 1764, 1767 (2002), a defendant is entitled to counsel if he: (1) is indigent; (2) has not waived the right to coun¬sel;+ See more
and (3) is given a suspended sentence that may “end up in the actual depri¬vation of [his] liberty[.]” Based on the scenario you have presented, if the con¬temnor is indigent and, as it appears, he was not advised of and did not waive the right to counsel, he was entitled to an attorney at the time he pleaded guilty to the contempt charges. Consequently, he cannot be incarcerated on the con¬tempt charges. Under Shelton, appointment of counsel for indigent defendants is a con-stitutional prerequisite to the imposition of a conditional or suspended term of imprisonment. Although the contempt proceeding is considered “quasi-criminal” in nature and characterized as a “violation,” rather than a “crime” [see Ivey v. State, 698 So. 2d 179, 184 n.2 (Ala. Crim. App. 1995), aff’d, 698 So. 2d 187 (Ala. 1997)], because the defendant faces the possibility of incarceration [see ALA. CODE §13A-5-7 (1994) (stating that a defendant faces a term of imprisonment for both misdemeanors and violations)], he is entitled to counsel. See Lassiter v. Dep’t of Soc. Serv., 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981) (recognition of right to appointed counsel in a civil proceeding “where the litigant may lose his physical liberty if he loses the litigation”); see also Opinion to Rex K. Rainer, Director, Department of Finance, dated July 23, 1982, A.G. No. 82-00465; Ridgway v. Baker, 720 F.2d 1409, 1413 (5th Cir. 1983).
|Alabama||Ala. Att'y Gen. Op. 2002-036||Alabama-Attorney General opinion||
The United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Alabama have set forth minimal due process procedures to be afforded to a probationer in a probation revocation hearing. In a+ See more
probation revocation hearing, the probationer must be given written notice of the claimed violations of probation, a written statement by the factfinder as to the evidence relied on, and the reasons for revoking his probation. Because review of probation revocation proceedings from district or municipal court is in the nature of certiorari, no appeal bonds would be set. The right to counsel in probation revocation proceedings is not absolute. The judge conducting the probation hearing should decide on a case-by-case basis whether due process requires that an indigent probationer be represented by counsel.
the Supreme Court of Alabama has set forth the requirements and guidelines that must be met for minimal due process to be accorded the probationer under Morrissey and Gagnon before+ See more
his pro¬bation can be revoked. These guidelines include: 1. Written notice to the probationer of the claimed violations of probation. 2. Disclosure to the probationer of evidence against him or her. 3. Opportunity of probationer to be heard in per-son and to present witnesses and documentary evidence. 4. The right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses (unless the judge specifically finds good cause for not allowing confrontation). 5. A written statement by the judge as to the evi-dence relied on and reasons for revoking proba-tion. 6. The trial judge who granted probation may also conduct the revocation hearing. (We are not convinced that a detached and neutral judge should hold a revocation hearing. Judges preside over retrials. There appears to be no sound rea-son why the judge who granted probation could not fairly and impartially preside over revocation of probation hearing.) 7. We see no valid reason for having two hear¬ings if the probationer has been given sufficient notice of the charges and the evidence to be relied on for revocation of probation. If the pro¬bationer has not had time to prepare to refute the charges and evidence against him, he can have a timely continuance. 8. The judge conducting the probation hearing should decide on a case by case basis whether due process requires that an indigent probationer be represented by counsel. 9. It is not to be understood that proof beyond a reasonable doubt or the preponderance of the evidence are the standards to be applied in determining whether the probation should be revoked. The trial judge must only be reasonably satisfied from the evidence that the probationer has violated the conditions of his probation. Fiorella v. State, 40 Ala.App. 587, 121 So.2d 875 (1960). Armstrong v. State, 294 Ala. 100, 102-03, 312 So. 2d 620, 622-23 (Ala. 1975) (footnote omitted).
|Alabama||Ala. Att'y Gen. Op. 1998-00043||Alabama-Attorney General opinion||What authority do county or municipal courts have to set fines or fees?||
A municipality may enter into a contract with a pri¬vate probation service to fulfill the needs of the munic¬ipal court. Furthermore, a municipal judge can assess a supervision fee upon+ See more
each probationer as a condition of probation. This fee, however, cannot exceed the proba¬tioner's ability to pay.
Court costs are prescribed by statute and cannot be extended. See Attorney General's Opinion to Honorable Steven E. Blair, dated August 11, 1995, A.G. No. 95-00283. The municipal probation+ See more
statute, however, gives the judge broad authority to place conditions on probation. ALA. CODE _ 12-14-13 (1995). The statute not only pro¬vides a listing of conditions that the judge may require the probationer to comply with, but also gives the judge the authority to require the probationer to comply with "any other conditions." Id. Therefore, it is the opinion of this Office that a municipal judge can assess a super¬vision fee upon each probationer as a condition of probation. Any condition placed on a probationer that requires the payment of a fee, fine, or restitution should not exceed the probationer's ability to pay. See ALA. R. CRIM. P. 27.1, Committee Comments.
|Alabama||Ala. Att'y Gen. Op. 2012-027||Alabama-Attorney General opinion||Other applicable opinions||Non-indigent defendants may be incarcerated for failure to pay a fine after serving his or her sentence for the underlying offense||
Subject to the limitations of Rule 26.11 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court may place a nonindigent defendant in jail for failure to pay a fine after+ See more
the defendant has completed his or her sentence or probation for the underlying offense. The defendant may serve time until the fine is paid or no longer than one day for each $15 of the fine, no longer than the maximum term of imprisonment for the offense, and no longer than one year if the offense is a felony.
|Alabama||Ala. Att'y Gen. Op. 2002-336||Alabama-Attorney General opinion||Other applicable opinions||A municpality may publish, in a newspaper of local circulation, the names of those individuals with outstanding warrants for unpaid fines and the amount of those fines.||
This Office has previously opined that municipal court records are public records to which the public has access with certain limitations as to confidential information contained therein. Opinion of+ See more
the Attorney Gen-eral to the Honorable Bernice Kuykendall, Mayor, City of Cordova, dated September 2, 1987, A.G. No. 87-00303. As public records, the contents thereof, with certain limitations, may be published in the newspaper. Opinion of the Attorney General to the Honorable William T. Musgrove Jr., Attorney, City of Florence, dated October 6, 1988, A.G. No. 89-00003. The name, address, birth date, offense, and the amount of the past-due fine, as nonconfidential information contained in a municipal court record, may be published in a local newspaper as part of the collec-tion process. Id.
|Alabama||Ala. Att'y Gen. Op. 2000-020||Alabama-Attorney General opinion||Other applicable opinions||
When a defendant is arrested for failure to appear or failure to pay, Rule 4.3(b)(3), ARCrP, requires that a judge or magistrate conduct an initial appearance hearing within 72 hours+ See more
of arrest if the defendant has not obtained his or her release from jail.
Regarding circumstances where a defendant fails to pay court-ordered monies, Rule 26.11, ARCrP, provides that a judge must conduct a hearing to determine the financial means of a defendant for+ See more
the payment of court-ordered fines and costs, and authorizes imprisonment for non-indigent defendants who fail to pay. Rule 27.2, ARCrP, authorizes a judge to order a defendant to pay court costs and fines as a condition of probation. As previously discussed, in cases involving breaches of con¬ditions of probation, including conditions requiring payment of fines, costs, restitution, or other court-ordered assessments, the court must con¬duct an initial appearance hearing upon the arrest of a probationer before the probationer is incarcerated. The court must inquire into the proba¬tioner’s financial status and determine whether the probationer is indigent since incarceration of an indigent for nonpayment is prohibited.