OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Court Fine and Fee Collections Can Increase

Report 04-07, January 2004

Report Summary

  • Fines, fees, service charges and court costs are important sources of revenue for the state courts system. Chapter 2003-402, Laws of Florida, specifies that judges are responsible for assessing and enforcing these obligations and court clerks are responsible for collecting them; cooperation between these parties is essential for the process to work.
  • Successful collections are related to defendants' ability to pay. Traffic fines typically have relatively high collection rates, while criminal case fines and fees generally have low collection rates as these defendants typically have few financial resources. Based on their experience, judges and clerks caution that many fines and fees will not be collectable. However, revenues should increase in many counties as judges and clerks work together to enhance collection processes.
  • From a business perspective, decisions on collection techniques should be based on expected returns. Promising collection models include structured payment plans, notification of debt, collection courts, private collection agencies, and clerks acting as collection agencies. Other options that appear less viable include electronic fund transfers, liens against defendants, garnishment, driver license sanctions for criminal offenses, and the intercept of tax returns. Due to variations in caseloads and available resources, counties should have flexibility to determine the most cost-effective approaches.
  • Accurate collection and assessment data is not yet available to evaluate court financial operations

Related Reports
  1. Assessment, Collection, and Distribution of Fines and Fees in Criminal Cases
    Report 19-14 November 2019
  2. Clerk and Court State Funded Court-Related 2009-10 Fiscal Year Budget Information
    Report 10-11A January 2010
  3. Little Duplication in Court-Related Services; Clerk/Court Cooperation Should Be Improved
    Report 10-11 January 2010
  4. Clerks of Court Generally Are Meeting the System's Collections Performance Standards
    Report 07-21 March 2007
Copies of this report in print or alternate accessible format may be obtained by email OPPAGA@oppaga.fl.gov, telephone (850) 488-0021, or mail 111 W. Madison St., Room 312 Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475.
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