Often times, criminal convictions go beyond lengthy prison sentences and include costly monetary penalties as well. These penalties are not just limited to criminal cases but also apply to convictions for traffic matters. A court may require a defendant to pay court costs, fees, and fines upon a finding of guilt. Amounts vary from county to county, if not statutorily proscribed, and these financial obligations can quickly add up. Failure to pay may lead to other sanctions including, but not limited to:
- suspension of one's driver's license;
- increased time on supervision or probation;
- unsuccessful termination from supervision or probation; or
- increased court costs, fees or fines.
Additionally, these sanctions could potentially affect a person's ability to find or maintain gainful employment, housing, or professional licensing. The potential financial burden that these fees may have on a person, coupled with the serious ramifications that may result from a person's failure to pay, led the Illinois legislature to enact the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (the "Act").
Effective July 1, 2019, defendants will have additional options to help reduce their court costs, fees, and fines. Specifically, defendants will now have the opportunity to petition the Court to convert some of their fees into community service credit, ask for a substance abuse treatment program credit, and apply for a fee waiver. Depending on the circumstances, limitations may apply.
Court costs, fees, and fines quickly add up, and choosing not to pay is certainly not an option. It is important to consult with an attorney who understands the consequences of failing to pay, and who knows all of the available options to help minimize the financial burden a Client may face.