IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE TENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR HIGHLANDS COUNTY, FLORIDA

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 7-13.0

ORDER ESTABLISHING

A COLLECTIONS COURT PROGRAM IN HIGHLANDS COUNTY

 

WHEREAS, the assessment and provision for payment of fines and costs directly impacts the uniform and equitable treatment of offenders as well as directly impacts limited local resources allotted to defray the costs of prosecution and public defense and the maintenance and operation of the various courts within the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 938.30, Florida Statutes, enacting the Comprehensive Court Enforcement Act, procedures are necessary to improve the assessment and collection of fines and costs in criminal cases; and

WHEREAS, the Legislature of the State of Florida has imposed certain statutorily authorized discretionary costs; and

WHEREAS, the public perception that the courts and judicial system are providing equitable, equal and uniform treatment to all who come before the courts is preserved if all offenders with similar offenses are treated similarly;

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED

Pursuant to Rule 2.050, Florida Rule of Judicial Administration, a Collections Court Program, hereinafter referred to as "Program," shall be implemented in Highlands County for the collection of fines, mandatory and discretionary costs imposed by the sentencing court as authorized by statute and Administrative Order, public defender fees and liens, court appointed attorney liens, restitution, county ordinance infraction fines, municipal ordinance infraction fines, and surtaxes on fines, all of which are hereinafter collectively referred to as "fines and costs" as follows:

PLACEMENT OF THE CASE FOR THE PROGRAM

When fines and costs are imposed at sentencing for any criminal traffic violation or criminal case, municipal ordinance, Game and Fish or Clan Air violations, or reimposed pursuant to a termination of probation, the trial judge may also order any defendant, who does not pay or cannot pay the fines and court costs in full at sentencing to pay by a date certain not to exceed 120 days to comply with the terms of the Program and this Administrative Order.

The sentencing judge shall advise defendants of the total amount of fines and costs due at the time of sentencing, and the date certain payment in full is due, which is the day prior to the Court Ordered Payment Due hearing date which shall be given to the defendant at the time of sentencing or reimposition of fines and costs, unless the sentencing judge finds that there is a basis for handling particular cases differently.

In cases in which defendants are sentenced and incarcerated to the Florida Department of Corrections, the judge may reduce all fines and costs to a final judgment, and thus these defendants shall not be included in the Program. However, these defendants may be included in the Program once they are released from state custody.

INFORMATION FORM AND SENTENCING ORDER

At sentencing, the trial clerk shall prepare and furnish to each defendant who is ordered to comply with the Program a form entitled "Information Form for Cases Set for Court Ordered Payment Due Hearing", hereinafter referred to as "Information Form." A copy of the Information Form shall be furnished to the defendant. The Information Form shall advise the defendant of the following:

a. Where payments are to be made;

b. The date or time period in which payment is to be made (not to exceed 120 days);

c. That the Court Ordered Payment Due Hearing shall take place at the Courthouse at 430 South Commerce Avenue, Sebring, Florida;

d. That the payment in full must be paid no later than the day before the Court Ordered Payment Due Hearing date;

e. That there will be no continuances granted by the Clerk of Court of the payment due date or Hearing date;

f. That if the defendant fails to appear for the Court Ordered Payment Due Hearing date and the debt goes unpaid, a capias may be issued for the defendant’s arrest with a purge amount due being ordered; and

g. Any other specific fees authorized by this Administrative Order and Florida Statute.

The purge amount shall include the outstanding fine and costs for the particular case and administrative fees authorized by this Administrative Order.

With the Information Form, defendants shall receive at the time of sentencing a copy of the "snap out" or Sentencing Order where the trial clerk or the judge indicates:

h. The defendant’s presence when sentence or termination of probation is pronounced;

i. The total amount of fine and costs imposed by the Court;

j. The Court Ordered Payment Due Hearing date and time, which shall not exceed 120 days from the date of sentencing;

COLLECTIONS COURT – COURT ORDERED PAYMENT DUE HEARING

Once a Court Ordered Payment Due Hearing is scheduled, all monies due must be paid in full no later than the day before the hearing. If the payment is paid as scheduled, the court date shall be removed from the docket calendar. The defendant does not need to appear at the hearing when scheduled if all monies are paid in full prior to the hearing date.

Pursuant to Section 28.231, Florida Statutes, the Clerk of Court for Highlands County is authorized to impose a $20.00 fee each time a defendant fails to pay the fines when due and another hearing is held.

The Clerk of Court shall not continue cases in Payment Due Court or continue due dates for payments of fines and costs without a judge’s order. The Clerk of Court shall not modify the fine and cost amount imposed at sentencing or modify the fees required to be paid according to this Administrative Order.

If the defendant does not pay the fines and court costs by the day before the Court Ordered Payment Hearing date, the defendant shall appear on the Court Ordered Payment Hearing date and either show proof of payment or provide the Court with justification as to why the debt is unpaid and request to be placed in the Partial Payment Plan Program.

If the defendant fails to appear for the Court Ordered Payment Due hearing and the debt goes unpaid, a capias may be issued for the defendant’s arrest with a purge amount due hearing being ordered. The purge amount shall be the fines and costs and any fees specified be this Administrative Order and authorized by Florida Statutes. The Court may also D-6 the defendant’s privilege to drive for nonpayment in criminal traffic cases or in instances where the Florida Legislature has authorized a D-6 for nonpayment of a particular fine and court cost. The Court may determine in a particular case to also issue a capias for a failure to appear.

In the event a judge orders that a capias be issued, the Clerk shall prepare and issue the capias and forward it to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. The Clerk shall retain a copy of the capias in the court file. Upon receipt of the capias, the Highlands County Sheriff’s office shall serve the capias. The Clerk is authorized, pursuant to Section 28.231, Florida Statutes, to impose a $20.00 fee each time the defendant fails to appear at the hearing and a capias is ordered. This cost shall be applied for the service of process, including writing, preparing, signing, and sealing of the capias ordered, and the collection and disbursement of any purge amount.

Defendants held in custody who are unable or unwilling to pay the purge amount required by the capias shall be brought before the sentencing judge on the earliest scheduled court date available. At this hearing, the judge may reduce the fines and court costs owed to judgment, suspend the defendant’s driving privilege for nonpayment, set a form of release of the defendant with a new Court ordered Payment Due Hearing date or place the defendant in the Salvation Army’s Partial Payment Plan. The defendant may be released upon payment of the purge amount at any time, at which time any scheduled hearings as to the collection of any monies shall be canceled.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

That the Salvation Army Partial Payment Program, currently in existence in Highlands County and commonly known as the Partial Payment Program, which allows defendants who are experiencing financial difficulty at the time of their court date and who are assigned to the program to pay court ordered obligations in monthly installments, shall continue to operate as follows:

The sentencing judge will determine eligibility of defendants for the program.

Upon a defendant being placed in the Partial Payment Program, the Salvation Army shall collect a $15.00 registration fee for administration costs to be retained by the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army shall accept partial payments in minimum amounts of $25.00 for fines and costs. Pursuant to Section 28.231, Florida Statutes, the Salvation Army of Highlands County is authorized to collect a $2.00 fee for each partial payment of $25.00 or more. This fee shall be retained by the Salvation Army to cover the costs of filing papers, security of the filing system, arranging of files, and the collection and disbursement of fees, fines, costs and trust funds.

Upon full payment of all monies assessed by the court and all fees owed to the Salvation Army, the Salvation Army shall transmit the collected court funds to the Clerk of Court for disbursement to the appropriate accounts and trust funds.

If a participant in the Partial Payment Program fails to make payments as required, the Salvation Army shall notify the Clerk of Court by issuing a Failure of Partial Payment Program notification and request for the defendant to be noticed back to court.

After receiving a Failure of Partial Payment Program notice, the Clerk of Courts shall issue a Notice to Appear for Partial Payment Failure hearing to the defendant.

Pursuant to Section 28.231, Florida Statutes, the Clerk of Court for Highlands County is authorized to impose a $20.00 fee each time a defendant fails to make the required payment under the Partial Payment Program requiring a hearing to be held.

If the defendant fails to appear for the Failure of Partial Payment Program hearing, a capias may be issued for the defendant’s arrest with a purge amount due being ordered. The purge amount shall be the fines and costs and any fees specified by this Order and authorized by Florida Statutes. The court may also D-6 the defendant’s driving privilege to drive for nonpayment in criminal traffic cases or in instances where the Florida Legislature has authorized a D-6 for nonpayment of a particular fine and court cost.

If the defendant fails to appear for the Failure of Partial Payment Program hearing and a capias is issued, pursuant to Section 28.231, Florida Statutes, the Clerk of Courts is authorized to impose a $20.00 fee each time the defendant fails to appear at the hearing and a capias is issued. This Cost shall be applied for the service of process, including writing, preparing, signing, and sealing of the capias ordered and the collection and disbursement of any purge amount.

When a capias is order by the court and then issued by the clerk, the capias shall contain the purge amount and forward it to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. The clerk shall retain a copy of the capias in the court file. Upon receipt of the capias, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office shall serve the capias.

Defendants held in custody who are unable or unwilling to pay the purge amount required in the capias shall be brought before the sentencing judge on the earliest scheduled court date available.

OTHER LEGAL REMEDIES FOR COLLECTION

This Administrative Order shall not bar the Sentencing Court or the Clerk of Courts from taking other legal action in any case to collect fines and costs including suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license in traffic cases, pursuing a civil action where legal and appropriate, and pursuing other actions that my be or become legal due to statutory changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE

This Administrative Order shall become effective upon entry.

DONE AND ORDERED on this 5th day of December 2003.

RONALD A. HERRING

Chief Judge