AN ACT TO PROMOTE CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEBT REFORM.
Enacts new GS 14-2.3A prohibiting a State, county, or municipal law enforcement agency from: (1) referring, transferring, or relinquishing possession of property seized under State law to a federal agency by way of adoption of the seized property or other means by the federal agency for the purpose of the property's forfeiture under federal law or (2) accepting payment or distribution of forfeiture proceeds resulting from a joint task force or other multijurisdictional collaboration with the federal government, if the criminal charge under which the property was seized does not result in a criminal conviction or the net value of the seizure proceeds to be received by the law enforcement agency does not exceed $5,000.
Amends GS 7A-304 concerning costs and fees in criminal actions, as follows. Requires in every criminal case where the defendant is convicted or enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or when costs are assessed against the prosecuting witness, that the court determine the defendant's ability to pay any costs assessed and weigh that determination when assessing and collecting the costs listed in the statute (previously, the costs were assessed automatically without considering ability to pay). Removes the prohibition on the court waiving or remitting all or part of any court fines or costs without providing notice and opportunity to be heard by all government entities directly affected; makes conforming deletions. Decreases from $200 to $100 the cost assessed for support of the General Court of Justice by a defendant who fails to appear to answer the charge as scheduled, unless within 20 days after the scheduled appearance, the person either appears in court to answer the charge or disposes of the charge under GS 7A-146. Amends the costs for the following services that are charged under specified circumstances by specifying that instead of charging $600, the amount charged must reflect the costs actually incurred for the services, not to exceed $600: (1) services of the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory facilities; (2) services of any crime laboratory facility; (3) services of any private hospital performing toxicological testing under contract with a prosecutorial district; (4) services of the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory facilities; (5) services of any crime laboratory facility; (6) services of an expert witness employed by the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory who completes a chemical analysis, a forensic analysis, or a digital forensics analysis and provides testimony about that analysis in a defendant's trial; (7) services of an expert witness employed by a crime laboratory who completes a chemical analysis, a forensic analysis, or a digital forensics analysis and provides testimony about that analysis in a defendant's trial; and (8) services of an expert witness employed by a private hospital performing toxicological testing under contract with a prosecutorial district who completes a chemical analysis and provides testimony about that analysis in a defendant's trial. Deletes an outdated reporting requirement. No longer requires defendants paying costs using a installment plan to pay a $20 setup fee.
Repeals GS 7A-350, which required the Administrative Office of the Courts to keep records of and report on criminal court cost waivers to the specified NCGA committees.
Amends GS 15A-1364, which provides that when a defendant who has been required to pay a fine or costs defaults in payment or in any installment, the court may require the defendant to appear and show cause why he should not be imprisoned or may rely upon a conditional show cause order. Adds that this does not apply to a defendant who has received an active sentence in the same case in which the defendant has defaulted on the payment.
Amends GS 15A-1365, which allows the judge to order that the judgment be docketed when a defendant has defaulted in payment of a fine or costs. Provides that the clerk may not issue an execution on the docketed judgement if the fine or costs were imposed for an offense other than trafficking in controlled substances or conspiring to traffic in controlled substances and the defendant is serving an active sentence (was, the defendant elects to serve the suspended sentence, if any, or serve a term of 30 days, if no suspended sentence was imposed).
Enacts new GS 20-24.3, prohibiting the Division of Motor Vehicles (Division) from revoking the drivers license of a person charged with an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony if revocation is solely due to failure to appear after proper notice when the case was called for a trial or hearing, and/or failure to pay a fine, penalty, or court costs ordered by the court.
Makes conforming repeals of (1) GS 20-24.1, which requires the Division to revoke the driver's license of a person upon receipt of notice from a court that the person was charged with a motor vehicle offense and either failed to appear after proper notice when the case was called for a trial or hearing; or failed to pay a court-ordered fine, penalty, or court costs, and (2) GS 20-24.2, which requires a court to report to the Division the name of any person charged with a motor vehicle offense under the Chapter who fails to appear to answer the charge as scheduled or fails to pay a fine, penalty, or costs within 40 days of the date specified in the court's judgment. Makes conforming changes to GS 15A-1116; GS 20-13.2; GS 20-19(k); GS 20-28.1; GS 20-217(g2); GS 50-13.12; and GS 110-142.2(f).
Further amends GS 20-217(g2), regarding the required withholding of the registration renewal of a motor vehicle registered to a person who fails to pay any fine or costs imposed pursuant to the statute for failing to stop for properly marked and designated school buses in certain instances. Directs the Division to continue to withhold the registration renewal until the clerk of superior court notifies the Division that the person has satisfied each of the four specified conditions applicable to the person’s case, including (1) disposing of the charge in which the person failed to appear when the case was last called for trial or hearing; (2) demonstrating to the court that the person is not the person charged with the offense; (3) paying the penalty, fine, or costs ordered by the court; and/or (4) demonstrating to the court that the person’s failure to pay the penalty, fine, or costs was not willful and that the person is making a good-faith effort to pay or that the penalty, fine, or costs should be remitted.
Further amends GS 50-13.12, which governs forfeiture of licensing privileges for failure to pay child support or for failure to comply with a subpoena issued pursuant to child support or paternity establishment proceedings. Clarifies that reinstatement of a drivers license under the statute is conditioned upon payment of the applicable restoration fees in addition to the specified requirements.
Similarly, further amends GS 110-142.2, which governs suspension and revocation of occupational, professional, or business licenses of obligors who are delinquent in court-ordered child support, or who are not in compliance with subpoenas issued pursuant to child support or paternity establishment proceedings. Clarifies that reinstatement of a drivers license under the statute is conditioned upon payment of the applicable restoration fees in addition to the specified requirements.
Effective October 1, 2021.
Amends GS 143B-708 to explicitly provide that a judge can waive the $250 fee required for participation in the community service program for good cause.
Eliminates the court costs set forth for seat belt infractions in GS 20-135.2A; maintains the civil penalty for the infraction. Applies to costs and fees assessed on or after October 1, 2021.
Amends GS 15A-1343 to require a court to exempt a person from paying the $40 per month fee for supervised probation when probation is extended for the sole purpose of complying with monetary obligations. Makes conforming changes. Applies to supervision fees incurred in the calendar month of the date the act becomes law and all subsequent supervision fees incurred in the same term of supervised probation.
© 2021 School of Government The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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