Every year, court costs increase, but this year is different. With the new republican controlled legislature and the budget crisis, the government is looking to increase revenue and it seems they have looked to court costs. While in the past, there have been nominal increase – usually once a year, this year there have been two already, and another one set to hit later this year.
The court costs for an improper equipment violation (a non moving violation to which many traffic offenses may be reduced to avoid both DMV points and insurance points) increased effective October 1, 2010 from $161 to $166. On July 1, 2011 court costs went up for an improper equipment (IE) from $166 to $195. And effective August 1, 2011 court costs for an IE went up from $195 to $263.
Not only are the costs increasing, but they are becoming more complex! The amount of the court costs in a criminal case now depends on the class or type of crime alleged. The costs are different for infractions and misdemeanors, and different for chapter 20 violations (traffic violations) and other crimes. Check out the official documents giving notice of the changes and the charts provided to explain the costs and how to calculate them: http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/Trial/Costs/Default.asp
In addition to the changes and increases, the lack of advance notice have been especially frustrating. For example, look at the at the 2011 Court Costs Memo – effective July 1, 2011 in the list of documents at the AOC link above. The date of the memo is: June 28, 2011, and it refers to: “Legislative Increases in Court Costs and Fees, July 2011; EFFECTIVE July 1, 2011, unless otherwise noted.”
These changes have not only been costly to our clients but they have also been very confusing and cumbersome to everyone involved! The staff in the courts have been expressing frustration, understandably so, including some of the clerks and the District Attorneys’ staff. Even some of the judges have been making comments about the changes and uncertainty associated with the changes and the implementation thereof.