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AB-351 Payment options for criminal fines and fees.(2019-2020)



Current Version: 04/11/19 - Amended Assembly         Compare Versions information image


AB351:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 07, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 351


Introduced by Assembly Member Choi

February 04, 2019


An act to add Section 68090.9 to the Government Code, relating to courts. 19.51 to the Penal Code, relating to crimes.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 351, as amended, Choi. Payment options for criminal fines and fees.
Existing law requires a court to charge various fines, fees, penalties, and assessments for criminal defendants, including fines assessed as a penalty for a crime, restitution fines, and fees for the support and maintenance of the courts, as specified.
This bill would require the court to offer a payment plan to a criminal defendant who has been assessed fines, fees, penalties, and assessments in an amount over $500, other than a restitution order payable to the victim, resulting from a criminal prosecution on or after January 1, 2021, and would authorize the court to offer a payment plan under those circumstances to a defendant who has been assessed fines, fees, penalties, and assessments of $500 or less. The bill would require the court to allow a defendant to pay those fines, fees, penalties, and assessments with a credit card, as specified. The bill would require the Judicial Council to adopt Rules of Court to implement these provisions. a defendant or ward to be given the opportunity to pay a fine, fee, or assessment related to a criminal proceeding or conviction, or a juvenile proceeding involving a misdemeanor or felony, except for an order of victim restitution, with a payment plan. The bill would authorize a defendant or ward to be charged a fee for processing an installment account and a fee for processing a credit card transaction, and would generally authorize a reduction of the fine if the defendant or ward establishes autopayment linked to a valid bank account. The bill would authorize a willful violation of an order establishing a payment plan to be punished as contempt. By expanding the crime of contempt, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NOYES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 19.51 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

19.51.
 (a) Except for an order of victim restitution, if a provision of this code or any other law requires or authorizes imposition of a fine, fee, or assessment related to a criminal proceeding or conviction, or juvenile proceeding involving a misdemeanor or felony, the defendant or ward shall be given the opportunity to pay the fine, fee, or assessment with a payment plan.
(b) The defendant or ward shall sign a written agreement to comply with the payment plan according to an installment schedule as agreed upon with the court.
(c) A judgment granting a payment plan shall order, if the defendant or ward fails to complete any payment plan or to make any installment on a payment plan on the date that it is due, that the defendant or ward may be required to appear in court for further proceedings and that a willful violation of the order is punishable as contempt.
(d) (1) The terms of a payment plan may require a defendant or ward to pay to the clerk of the court or the collecting agency a fee for the processing of installment accounts. This fee shall equal the administrative and clerical costs, as determined by the board of supervisors or by the court, except that the fee shall not exceed thirty-five dollars ($35).
(2) The court may offer a reduction of a fine, other than a fine imposed pursuant to Section 76104.6 of the Government Code, if the defendant or ward establishes a payment plan through autopayment linked to a valid bank account.
(3) The court shall not assess a fee for the use of a credit card transaction that exceeds the amount of the transaction fee charged to the court for the transaction and the court shall not impose a fee in excess of 10 percent of the amount of the payment.
(e) This section does not prohibit a court from converting a fine to jail time pursuant to Section 1205 or to community service pursuant to Section 1209.5, or affect the court’s duty, prior to imposing a fine, fee, or assessment, to evaluate the defendant’s or ward’s overall ability to pay the total fine, fee, or assessment, or any portion thereof, without undue hardship.
(f) The Judicial Council shall prescribe the form of the payment plan agreement and adopt Rules of Court to implement this section.
(g) For purposes of this paragraph, “payment plan” means a schedule for payments to be made within a specified time period or in specified installments to pay a court-ordered fine, fee, or assessment.

SEC. 2.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
SECTION 1.Section 68090.9 is added to the Government Code, to read:
68090.9.

(a)The court shall offer a criminal defendant who has been assessed charges resulting from a criminal prosecution on or after January 1, 2021, both of the following options:

(1)(A)A defendant who has charges in excess of five hundred dollars ($500) shall be offered a payment plan. The court may offer a payment plan to a defendant who has charges of five hundred dollars ($500) or less.

(B)A showing that the defendant is in arrears or indigent shall not be required for a payment plan to be established.

(C)The court shall offer a reduction of up to 5 percent of the total charges due if the payment plan is established through autopayment linked to a valid bank account.

(2)The ability to pay the charges with a credit card. An additional fee shall not be assessed for credit card transactions.

(b)For purpose of this section, “charges” means all fines, fees, penalties, and assessments incurred as a result of a criminal prosecution. “Charges” does not include an order of restitution payable to the victim imposed pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1202.4 of the Penal Code.

(c)The Judicial Council shall adopt Rules of Court implementing this section. This section does not impair or invalidate an existing contract, however, the court shall not renew a contract that is in conflict with the requirements of this section.