Public Act 100-987, “An Act concerning fees, fines and assessments” becomes law on July 1, 2019, and amends various statutes related to the imposition of assessments against civil litigants and criminal defendants. In particular, it creates the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act. As the name implies, the Act lays out the various assessments to be imposed upon the dispositions of criminal and traffic offenses. The purpose of the Act is to simplify what has been called a “byzantine system that attempts to pass an increased share of the costs of court administration on the parties to court proceedings.”
The Statutory Court Fee Task Force was created for the purpose of reviewing that “byzantine system” of State’s statutory fees imposed on civil litigants and criminal defendants, and to present a report with findings and recommendations to the Illinois Supreme Court, as well as the General Assembly.
The report, dated June 1, 2016, noted Illinois’ “dizzying array” of filing fees and court costs, as well as court fines and fees that have outpaced inflation. The task force further found an excessive variation in assessments from county to county for the same types of proceedings, as well as assessments having nothing to do with the proceeding against a defendant.
Based on its review, the Task Force developed six recommendations:
- A statutory standardization of maximum court assessments for civil cases into four classes, and the creation of assessment schedules for each; however, the Task Force noted that “uniform assessment” cannot be achieved, though reduced
variations and transparency can be.
- Financial relief from assessments in civil cases for residents living at or near poverty.
- A uniform assessment schedule for criminal and traffic cases throughout the state.
- A wavier for reduction of assessments imposed on criminal defendants living in or near poverty.
- Modified bail calculations under Supreme Court Rule 529.
- A checklist of important considerations for the General Assembly to consult before proposing new assessments, as well as review of existing assessments.
The result of the recommendations, in part, was the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act, which, as noted above, becomes law on July 1.
1. Illinois Court Assessments: Findings and Recommendations for Addressing Barriers to Access to Justice and Additional Issues Associated with Fees and Other Court Costs in Civil, Criminal, and Traffic Proceedings, Statutory Court Fee Task Force, June 1, 2016.
The Act creates several distinct schedules for various types of offenses, which standardizes court costs. The schedules are as follow:
- generic felony offenses;
- felony DUI offenses;
- felony drug offenses;
- felony sex offenses;
- generic misdemeanor offenses;
- misdemeanor DUI offenses;
- misdemeanor drug offenses;
- misdemeanor sex offenses;
- major traffic offenses;
- minor traffic offenses;
- truck weight and load offenses;
- conservation offenses;
- dispositions under Supreme Court Rule 529;
- non-traffic violations; and
- conditional assessments.
For illustration’s sake, the schedule for major traffic offenses is included below.
SCHEDULE 9: For a major traffic offense, the Clerk of the Circuit Court shall collect $325 plus, if applicable, the amount established under paragraph (1.5) of this Section and remit as follows:
(1) As the county’s portion, $203 to the county treasurer, who shall deposit the money as follows:
(A) $20 into the Court Automation Fund;
(B) $20 into the Court Document Storage Fund;
(C) $5 into the Circuit Court Clerk Operation and Administrative Fund;
(D) $8 into the Circuit Court Clerk Electronic Citation Fund; and
(E) $150 into the county’s General Fund.
(1.5) In a county with a population of 3,000,000 or more, the county board may by ordinance or resolution establish an additional assessment not to exceed $37 to be remitted to the county treasurer of which $5 shall be deposited into the Court Automation Fund, $5 shall be deposited into the Court Document Storage Fund, $2 shall be deposited into the State’s Attorneys Records Automation Fund, $2 shall be deposited into the Public Defenders Records Automation Fund, $10 shall be deposited into the Probation and Court Services Fund, and the remainder shall be used for purposes related to the operation of the court system.
(2) As the State’s portion, $97 to the State Treasurer, who shall deposit the money as follows:
(A) $20 into the State Police Operations Assistance Fund;
(B) $5 into the Drivers Education Fund;
(C) $5 into the State Police Merit Board Public Safety Fund;
(D) $22 into the Fire Prevention Fund;
(E) $40 into the Traffic and Criminal Conviction Surcharge Fund; and
(F) $5 into the Violent Crime Victims Assistance Fund.
(3) As the arresting agency’s portion, $25, to the treasurer of the unit of local government of the arresting agency, who shall deposit the money as follows:
(A) $2 into the E-citation Fund of that unit of local government or as provided in subsection (c) of Section 10-5 [705 ILCS 135/10-5] of this Act if the arresting agency is a State agency, unless more than one agency is responsible for the arrest in which case the amount shall be remitted to each unit of government equally.
(B) $23 into the General Fund of that unit of local government or as provided in subsection (c) of Section 10-5 of this Act if the arresting agency is a State agency, unless more than one agency is responsible for the arrest in which case the amount shall be remitted to each unit of government equally.
Of particular note is the new provision for a waiver of assessments available to criminal defendants. While not in the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act, P.A. 100-987 provides that a criminal defendant may seek an assessment waiver under 725 ILCS 5/124A-20 (newly added) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. This statute provides relief for indigent persons and may reduce up to 75% of assessments against the defendant, if application is made no later than 30 days after sentencing.