The Florida Legislature
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Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Court Fine and Fee Collections Can Increase, Report No. 04-07, January 2004
Full report in PDF format

  • 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

Which Government Program Summaries contain related information?

State Courts System  (Courts)
State Courts System - County Courts

What other OPPAGA-related materials are available?

  • Report No. 10-11A Clerk and Court State Funded Court-Related 2009-10 Fiscal Year Budget Information,published in January 2010.
  • Report No. 10-11 Little Duplication in Court-Related Services; Clerk/Court Cooperation Should Be Improved,published in January 2010.
  • Report No. 07-21 Clerks of Court Generally Are Meeting the System’s Collections Performance Standards, published in March 2007.

Copies of this report in print or alternate accessible format may be obtained by telephone (850/488-0021), by FAX (850/487-9213), in person, or by mail (OPPAGA Report Production, Claude Pepper Building, Room 312, 111 W. Madison St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475).
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