Doxpop - Tools for Attorneys and Public Information Researchers: Important changes to court fees and processes starting on July 1.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Important changes to court fees and processes starting on July 1.

On July 1, several important changes to court filing processes and fees will occur that you will need to be aware of:

In e-filing counties:

Sheriff's Civil Process Fees must be paid through the e-filing system. Previously, some counties required that you pay the sheriff directly. What this means to you is that when you are filing a document that you want the Sheriff to serve (usually the summons) you will click on "Sheriff's Service" in the "Optional Services" area. To make it easy for the Sheriff to know that you have paid the fee, we suggest that when you give the papers to be served to the Sheriff you also provide a copy of the "Notice of Electronic Filing" that shows the fee you paid. Click here for a post that describes in detail how to do this. [Update: on 7/11, we learned that you should also include the Notice of Acceptance. Details here.]

You will no longer have to pay the fee for service via certified mail to additional defendants or garnishee defendants. This is because you are responsible for completing service via certified mail now, and should not have to pay the clerk for a service no longer provided. Note that in counties that are not e-filing, the clerk still provides this service, and the fees for additional defendants remain in place.

In all counties:

Sheriff's service fees are increasing to $28. This fee may be collected once for pre-judgment and once for post-judgment. The single payment of the fee in both situations covers all attempts to serve.

Most case filing fees will increase moderately due to the collective effect of eight changes in individual court cost fees beginning on July 1:
  • As noted above, in e-filing counties, the extra defendant fees will no longer be collected. In all other counties, a $10 fee will be added for any additional defendants named in the initial filing and any garnishee defendants after the first three.
  • The automated record-keeping fee has increased from $19 to $20. (It was previously scheduled to decrease to $5 in 2017, so this is actually a $15 increase over the previous plan.)
  • The DNA sample processing fee has increased from $2 to $3.
  • Highway worksite zone fees are variable and can be either $0.50 cents or $25.50 depending on the nature of the offense.
  • Courts that adopt a local rule imposing late payment fees may add a $25 fee to fines and fees for any criminal case not paid on the due date.
  • The $50 mortgage foreclosure counseling and education fee on MF cases goes away.
  • Counties that have adopted an approved plan may charge a $20 Alternative Dispute Resolution fee for separation, paternity, and marriage dissolution cases
  • A judge may add alcohol and drug services program fees and/or alcohol and drug countermeasure fees in any amount to any infraction/ordinance case.

Since these fees affect different filing types, the effect on total fees varies, but here's our attempt at a simple summary:
  • Most Civil cases (including MF) will have a total initial filing fee of $157. In some counties, the family law cases will have the $20 ADR fee added to this.
  • Probate cases increase slightly to $177.
  • Small Claims cases will have a total initial filing fee of $87 in e-filing counties, but the initial fee is $97 and may be increased due to additional defendants in other counties. [This section was corrected on July 6th.]
  • Juvenile cases will have court costs of $176 at a minimum but may increase depending on circumstances.
  • Infraction cases will have court costs of $135 at a minimum but may increase depending on circumstances.
  • Criminal cases will have court costs of $185 at a minimum but may increase depending on circumstances.
  • Child Restraint and Seatbelt violations are not affected by the changes in court costs, but they are subject to the $25 late fees in courts that adopt a local rule.
  • Deferral Program fees remain at $192.50 for traffic offenses and $192 for non-traffic.
  • Diversion Program fees increase to $274.50 for traffic offenses and $274 for non-traffic.

Did we miss anything important? Please use the comment area below to let us know!

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