Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH

DIVISION 17. OFFENSES AND PROSECUTION [40000.1 - 41610]

  ( Division 17 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

CHAPTER 1.5. Pilot Program for Online Adjudication of Infraction Violations [40280 - 40288]
  ( Chapter 1.5 added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. )

40280.
  

It is the intent of the Legislature to create a pilot program to increase access to the courts by authorizing the online adjudication of infraction violations of this code and by authorizing online ability-to-pay determinations. It is further the intent of the Legislature to permit a pilot court to reduce, waive, or suspend bail, base fines, fees, including mandatory fees, penalties, and civil assessments, as part of any ability-to-pay determination.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40281.
  

The Judicial Council shall sponsor a pilot program to facilitate online adjudication of any infraction violations of this code for which a personal appearance is not required. The Judicial Council shall seek to select at least eight courts that are willing to participate in the program. To achieve a diverse sample when selecting pilot courts, the Judicial Council shall consider geography and court size when making the selection. At least one county shall have a population of between 500,000 people and 1 million people, and at least one county shall have a population of more than 1 million people.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40282.
  

(a) As part of the pilot program, the Judicial Council, through its delegates, shall develop an online tool for adjudicating infraction violations.

(b) A pilot court shall offer online adjudication of traffic infractions, including allowing a defendant to request an ability-to-pay determination and at least three of the following provisions:

(1) Agree to post and forfeit bail.

(2) Request to forfeit bail in installments pursuant to Section 40510.5.

(3) Request an online trial.

(4) Request a continuance.

(5) Request a date to appear in court.

(c) The online tool shall recommend a reduction of 50 percent or more of the total amount due, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 40283, for all defendants who are in receipt of CalFresh benefits as provided in Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 18900) of Part 6 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, or who have established an inability to pay pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 40284. The court shall make express findings if it deviates from the online tool recommendation by ordering a defendant to pay an amount greater than the recommendation under this subdivision.

(d) The online tool shall recommend a payment of no more than twenty-five dollars ($25) per month for a defendant who is eligible for a reduction pursuant to subdivision (c) and requests an installment plan.

(e) The online tool shall provide information in Spanish, English, and any other languages the court chooses.

(f) As feasible, pilot courts shall notify defendants of the result of the ability-to-pay determination within 30 days.

(g) A pilot court shall not compel a defendant to use the online tool.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 497, Sec. 279. (AB 991) Effective January 1, 2020. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40283.
  

Notwithstanding any other law, a pilot court may, by adopting a local rule, make ability-to-pay determinations under the procedures authorized in this section.

(a) A pilot court may allow defendants to agree to forfeit bail, plead guilty, or plead nolo contendere, and request an ability-to-pay determination. For purposes of this subdivision:

(1) A defendant need not post bail or pay any fines or fees prior to an ability-to-pay determination.

(2) The date that the defendant agrees to forfeit bail, plead guilty, or plead nolo contendere shall be reported as the date of conviction for purposes of reporting violations of this code to the department under Section 1803.

(3) If a defendant agrees to forfeit bail, plead guilty, or plead nolo contendere, and requests an ability-to-pay determination, the matter will be considered adjudicated for purposes of an ability-to-pay determination.

(b) Based on any ability-to-pay determination, a pilot court may do any of the following:

(1) Waive or reduce the sum of the total amount due for an infraction.

(2) Extend the time for payment or provide for payment on an installment plan, including those amounts due after any reduction under paragraph (1).

(3) Allow the defendant to complete community service in lieu of the total amount due. If a defendant qualifies for a reduction in the total amount due, the court may allow the defendant to complete the community service in lieu of the payment on the reduced amount.

(4) Suspend the total amount due in whole or in part.

(5) Offer an alternative disposition.

(c) A court may consider ability-to-pay determination requests submitted through an online tool.

(d) For purposes of this section, the “total amount due” is the sum of the base fine, penalty assessments, civil assessments, and fees, including mandatory fees, owed and unpaid by the defendant.

(e) This section does not preclude a court that is not participating in the pilot program from adopting procedures or rules of court in accordance with this section.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40284.
  

If a court elects to make available any of the procedures in Section 40283, the following shall apply to determinations made under those procedures:

(a) The defendant shall have the burden of establishing that he or she does not have the ability to pay. Pilot courts shall establish criteria for the determination of an inability to pay, and in doing so shall consider factors including, at a minimum:

(1) Receipt of any of the public benefits listed in subdivision (a) of Section 68632 of the Government Code.

(2) A monthly income of 125 percent or less of the current poverty guidelines, as updated periodically in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to Section 9902 of Title 42 of the United States Code.

(b) The court shall have the discretion to make an order consistent with the defendant’s present and reasonably discernible future financial circumstances.

(c) Except as provided for in subdivision (c) of Section 40282, the court is not required to make express findings as to the factors bearing on the determination or the amount it orders payable by the defendant.

(d) After an initial ability-to-pay determination, a defendant may make additional ability-to-pay requests only if all or a portion of the amount the court ordered payable by the defendant remains unpaid and the defendant can show a change in financial circumstances regarding his or her ability to pay.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40285.
  

(a) A pilot court that allows ability-to-pay determinations to be made through an online tool may allow the online tool to electronically verify through encrypted transmittal whether the defendant receives public benefits, defined as any of the public benefits listed in subdivision (a) of Section 68632 of the Government Code, by accessing a statewide, county, or other political subdivision of the state database, including, but not limited to, the State Department of Social Services. The court shall not access data regarding the type of benefit received.

(b) The court shall obtain the defendant’s consent before the online application may electronically verify benefits.

(c) The online application process shall do all of the following:

(1) Present the results of the verification described in subdivision (a) to a defendant for his or her review.

(2) Inquire whether the defendant wants to submit the results in support of his or her ability-to-pay petition.

(3) Notify the court of the public benefits query only if the defendant consents to presenting the results to the court.

(4) Inform the defendant of the following information:

(A) A defendant has the burden of establishing his or her inability to pay.

(B) The online verification is one of the possible means of substantiating the inability to pay.

(C) Other accepted means of verifying inability to pay.

(D) A defendant may upload other evidence in addition to or in lieu of the verification results.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40286.
  

Each pilot court may, by adopting a local rule, authorize the clerk of the court to make ability-to-pay determinations on requests submitted through the use of an online tool. If a pilot court authorizes the clerk of the court to make those determinations, the following shall apply:

(a) The determinations shall be based on specified criteria as established by the pilot court and posted on its Internet Web site. The criteria may include whether the defendant is receiving public benefits, including those listed in subdivision (a) of Section 68632 of the Government Code. The pilot court may establish criteria that waive or reduce the sum of the base fine, penalty assessments, civil assessments, and fees, including mandatory fees, owed by the defendant, by a specified amount, by a specified percentage, or by other specified criteria.

(b) The court shall obtain the defendant’s consent for the clerk to make the determination.

(c) A defendant shall have the right to a review by a judicial officer of any ability-to-pay determination made pursuant to subdivision (a) upon a written request made within 10 days of the determination.

(d) The court shall give the defendant notice electronically, accompanying the determination that has been reached by the clerk of the court through use of a formula adopted by the court, that the defendant has the right to a review of the ability-to-pay determination by a judicial officer.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40287.
  

A pilot court may offer online trials through an online tool as part of the pilot program. If a pilot court elects to offer online trials as part of the pilot program, it shall also continue to make trials by written declaration under Section 40902 available to defendants. If a pilot court makes online trials available to defendants, the following shall apply to all online trials and trials by written declaration adjudicated during the pilot, notwithstanding Section 40902:

(a) A defendant shall elect to have an online trial or trial by written declaration prior to the appearance date indicated on the notice to appear, unless the court grants the defendant an extension, or the court permits the defendant to have an online trial or trial by written declaration at a later date.

(b) If a defendant elects to have a trial through the online tool or trial by written declaration, the court shall not require the defendant submit bail in advance, unless the court makes express findings as to why a particular defendant shall be required to post bail.

(c) Testimony and other relevant evidence may be introduced in the form of a notice to appear issued under Section 40500, a business record or receipt, a sworn declaration of the arresting officer, and a sworn declaration by the defendant.

(d) If a defendant elects to have a trial through the online tool or trial by written declaration, the defendant shall not have a right to a trial de novo.

(e) The pilot court may adopt local rules or forms to be consistent with this section, and the rules and forms shall govern proceedings under this section during the pilot that would otherwise have been governed by the forms and California Rules of Court adopted by the Judicial Council.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 45, Sec. 19. (SB 847) Effective June 27, 2018. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, pursuant to Section 40288.)

40288.
  

(a) The Judicial Council may adopt rules and forms as may be necessary or appropriate to implement this chapter.

(b) On January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021, the Judicial Council shall report to the Legislature on the implementation of the pilot program. These reports shall include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Demographic information on defendants using the online tool, as reported by the defendant, including, but not limited to, income level, public benefits status, and ZIP Code.

(2) Information on all violations processed by the tool, including initial fine and fee totals, adjusted fines and fees as recommended by the online system, and the final judicial order.

(3) Number of individuals using each of the activities authorized pursuant to Section 40282.

(4) Information on the implementation of the pilot program in each of the courts, including any local practices or policies adopted pursuant to the pilot program.

(c) No later than June 30, 2022, the Judicial Council shall provide to the Legislature an evaluation of the pilot program. Where possible, the report shall compare court data and practices in the pilot counties as of June 30, 2018, to data collect during the pilot program. The report shall include the data collected for the report in subdivision (b) and the following information:

(1) An estimate of the costs of the online pilot program to the state and participating courts.

(2) The total amount of initial fines and fees assessed.

(3) The total amount of adjusted fines and fees recommended by the online tool.

(4) The total amount of fines and fees ordered.

(5) Of the total amount of fines and fees ordered, the total amount collected.

(6) A comparison of the number of users of the online pilot program with total traffic infraction filings in participating courts.

(7) Monthly payment plan arrangements ordered and payment plan adherence.

(8) Findings from a survey of judicial officers, defendants, and court staff, designed to assess ease of use and satisfaction with results.

(9) An assessment of the overall effectiveness of the program, including implementation challenges and recommendations for improving them.

(d) The reports to be submitted pursuant to subdivisions (b) and (c) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

(e) This chapter shall remain in effect only until June 30, 2022, and as of January 1, 2023, is repealed, unless a later enacted statute that is enacted before January 1, 2023, deletes or extends that date.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 497, Sec. 280. (AB 991) Effective January 1, 2020. Inoperative June 30, 2022. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, by its own provisions. Note: Repeal affects Chapter 1.5, commencing with Section 40280.)

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