Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Judges might be able to reduce court costs for low-income people

Showing “undue hardship” to a judge may be able to lower a person’s court costs.

Under current law anyone appearing in criminal or traffic court must pay a $75 surcharge to the court, unless the case is for a parking violation, which has a $12 surcharge. These surcharges are mandatory, and judges cannot waive them.

HF1060 would require judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay surcharges, including the hardship that paying a fee or surcharge would place on the person’s immediate family. The bill would also allow judges to impose community work service in lieu of the surcharge.

The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division approved the bill Thursday and sent it to the House Ways and Means Committee. There is no Senate companion.

Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul), sponsor of the bill, testified that more than 50 percent of the time, low-income people fail to pay the surcharges, resulting in extra cost and extra time for the court to try to collect them.

“Right-sizing these fines will lead to a lower default rate, fewer collection cases, and may even increase collection rates,” he said.

The bill includes six factors a court must consider when determining a defendant’s ability to pay:

  • income;
  • dependents;
  • financial resources;
  • basic living expenses;
  • receipt of a means-tested public assistance program; and
  • any special circumstances that may have bearing.

 


Related Articles


Priority Dailies

Governor proposes $2 billion bonding package for 2020
Governor pitches $2 billion plan to invest in infrastructure, public safety, higher ed, housing and other areas of need across the state.
Rep. Diane Loeffler passes away
Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) passed away Saturday. An email from House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), said that Loeffler, serving her eighth term in the...
State Fair poll shows steady support for gun sale background checks, recreational marijuana
Support for criminal background checks on all gun sales and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use appears to have remained steady among Minnesotans during the past 12 months.
Governor signs special session budget bills into law
One week after a marathon special session that saw lawmakers pass most of the major budget bills needed to fund the state’s government over the next two years, Gov. Tim Walz signed the legislation into law.
After sunrise, the sun sets on 2019 special session
It took a grueling special session that stretched past sunrise, but Minnesota lawmakers completed their work early Saturday morning on passing a new two-year state budget.

Minnesota House on Twitter