Why are Fines so High in California?
What is a Penalty Assessment?It is an amount added to the base bail and base fines on infractions, misdemeanors and felony offenses. The current penalty assessment (eff. January 1, 2009), is $26 for each $10 or portion of $10 of fine or bail as set by the California State Legislature. The $26 Penalty Assessment is charged pursuant to Penal Code ? 1464 and Government Code ?? 76000, 70372,076104.6, 76107.7 and 76000.5. These amounts seem to be frequently changing and they aren't going down.
Wait There's More . . .In addition to the penalty assessments, effective Jan. 2009, a $40 court security fee is added for each infraction, misdemeanor or felony violation resulting in a conviction pursuant to PC ? 1465.8. Also, an assessment in the amount of $30 for each misdemeanor or felony and $35 for each infraction will be added for each conviction (GC ? 70373). There is also a 20% State Surcharge, effective since September 20, 2002, imposed on the base bail or base fine amount. This 20% may not be used to calculate the Penalty Assessment per each $10 of fine.
These penalties are also included in the calculation for traffic school.
Confused? Here's a quick way to estimateFor a fine of $25.00, with the PA added you're going to pay about $200.00. If you are given a $100.00 fine, you're at about $480.00. A minimum DUI fine is $390.00, your grand total is about $1900.
What Does Traffic School cost?Traffic School fees are added to the total of all the other charges. The base fine, PA, Security Fee, State Surcharge, Conviction Assessment, Administrative Fee.
Traffic School fees are $49.00.
What if I don't pay on time?Failure to pay fines will result in an FTA added to your case. For traffic cases, this includes a $300 civil assessment and a hold on your driver's license.
A failure to pay on a misdemeanor will trigger a warrant by the court requiring you to see a judge to get reinstated on your payments.
Helpful hint: If you think or know you're going to miss a payment, go see the judge before its due. All the judges I see tell everyone they are willing to allow it when you ask ahead of time.
ConclusionIs it ridiculous? Yes it is! I had a judge in one of the Orange County traffic courts urge me to file an appeal based on a violation of the 8th Amendment. He was talking about the fines and fees amounting to Cruel and Unusual Punishment! I agree!
Also note, payments can be made on fines and fees through the collections office of each court, and if you want to work off the fine amount, community service is allowed.
Hope this helped you. If so, give me a 5 star review.