Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr.'s Bill That Would Consider a Defendant's Ability to Pay Court Fines and Fees Heads to the Senate

Thursday, May 23, 2019

(Sacramento – May 23, 2019,)  - Today, the California State Assembly voted (62-2) to approve Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer’s (D- South Los Angeles) Assembly Bill (AB) 927 which revises state law to assess additional fees only after a court concludes that the defendant is able to pay.

California has nearly $11 billion of debt in outstanding fines that are often assessed without the regard to a defendant’s ability to pay, resulting in a funding structure for courts and local governments that is over reliant on uncollectible funds from poor defendants,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr. “There are real consequences for individuals who are unable to pay their fees including credit downgrades that hamper future access to capital and additional difficulty in securing housing and employment.  California must stop creating additional barriers for poor communities, that’s why I am proud to author AB 927 that will provide debt relief and justice for hard working Californians.”

On January 8, 2019, the Second Court of Appeal held that the mandatory imposition of certain fines on criminal defendants, without regard to their ability to pay, was a violation of that defendant’s constitutional right to due process. AB 927 is in line with the Second Court’s recent ruling and will require the same process of one’s ability to pay except for orders of victim restitution.                                                                                   

“I am excited that AB 927 has passed the Assembly and look forward to working with my Senate colleagues,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer Sr. “This is a thoughtful bill that balances civil liberties, court workload, and a fundamental sense of fairness.”

AB 927 now heads to the California State Senate. 

 

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Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. represents South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr., please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/