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Dreams-Deferred-Florida-Juvenile-Fees-Report-2022 FFJC

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Table of Contents
I. Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….……

3

II. Key Findings …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…..

4

III. How Juvenile Fees and Court Costs Pile Up……………………………………………………….……

6

IV. Fees Harm Youth, Families, and the Community……………………………………………….…….

7

V. Juvenile Fee Revenue is Not Worth the Cost…………………………………………………….……..

10

VI. Organizations that Oppose Fees on Youth……………………………………………………….……….

12

VII. States Across the Country That Are Ending Juvenile Fees…………………………….……….

13

VIII. Why Florida Should Lead the Next Wave of States Ending Juvenile Fees…….………

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IX. Appendices…………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………

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X. Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………

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About Us
The Fines and Fees Justice Center (FFJC) is catalyzing a movement to eliminate the fines and
fees that distort justice. Our goal is to create a justice system that treats individuals fairly, ensures
public safety and community prosperity, and is funded equitably. We work together with affected
communities and justice system stakeholders to eliminate fees in the justice system, ensure that
fines are equitably imposed and enforced, and end abusive collection practices.
Juvenile Law Center advocates for rights, dignity, equity and opportunity for youth in the child
welfare and justice systems. Founded in 1975, Juvenile Law Center is the first non-profit, public
interest law firm for children in the country. Through litigation, appellate advocacy and submission
of amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs, policy reform, public education, training, consulting, and
strategic communications, we fight for children who come into contact with the child welfare and
justice systems. We strive to ensure that laws, policies, and practices affecting youth advance
racial and economic equity and are rooted in research, consistent with children’s unique
developmental characteristics, and reflective of international human rights values. Juvenile Law
Center is also part of the national Debt Free Justice campaign.

Contact
Learn more about the impact of juvenile fees in Florida by contacting FFJC Florida State Director,
Sarah Couture at scouture@ffjc.us and/or Andrew Keats at Juvenile Law Center at akeats@jlc.org.
You can also visit ffjc.us/florida or debtfreejustice.org.
© 2022. All rights reserved. Part or all of this publication can be reproduced if credited to
Juvenile Law Center and Fines and Fees Justice Center.
2

Introduction
70 years ago, Langston Hughes posed a question that is, sadly, still relevant for many of
Florida’s children today: what happens to a dream deferred? 1
Right now, thousands of young people in Florida find even modest dreams of a decent
job and a life without endless debt almost impossible to attain. Their dreams have been
indefinitely deferred by debt imposed by the justice system.
Over the last decade, the Florida legislature has taken major steps to protect and support
children’s futures, but the current policy of charging youth, and their families, justice
system fees severely undermines this progress. Every young person who comes into
contact with Florida’s courts — regardless of guilt or innocence — is saddled with fees.
Florida law authorizes 31 different court fees, costs and surcharges to be imposed on
youth and their families. Together, these fees are quietly leading our youth, and their
families, down a path of inescapable debt and poverty.

DEQUAN’S STORY
Dequan Jackson dreamed of playing professional football ever since he was a little
boy. He excelled in the classroom and on the field, and today he is one of the top 50
players in the Mountain West Division.
Nine years ago, Jackson’s dream to play for the NFL was almost taken from him.
In middle school, Jackson bumped into a teacher while horsing around in the hallway.
Rather than a reprimand or detention — a middle school punishment one might expect
— he was charged with battery.
Jackson worked 40 hours in a food bank, met with a counselor, and kept to a daily 8PM
curfew. But it wasn’t enough. The courts punished him again, this time with a bill for
$200 in juvenile court fees.
For Jackson and his mother, scraping together $200 of spare income was impossible.
When the family couldn’t pay, the courts placed him on probation and billed
them another $30 per month in probation fees.
After 14 months, Jackson’s court fee bill had climbed to almost $900.

1

Langston Hughes, "Harlem" from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, ed. Arnold Rampersad, and
David E. Roessel (New York: Knopf, 1994).

3

This report outlines the catastrophic consequences of juvenile fee debt for Florida’s
children, families, and economy including: increased poverty, increased recidivism, and
the exacerbation of racial disparities in the justice system. It also shows how the
accumulation of fee debt is particularly damaging for Black youth and youth in the child
welfare system. Using county-level and statewide data, the report highlights the futility of
both government, and private collection efforts, arguing that the costs of fee assessment
and collection far outweigh the meager revenue received from such efforts.
The solution to the problem of juvenile fees is simple: eliminate them and give young
people a fair chance at a future. The Florida legislature has already shown leadership in
prioritizing children’s futures by removing obstacles to education, vocational training, and
safe housing. The Debt-Free Justice for Children Act is an opportunity to strengthen this
tradition by eliminating fees imposed on young people, up to age 18, and extending
protection for youth in the foster system, up to age 21, who are especially vulnerable to
the impacts of court costs.
A growing number of states — both red and blue — have already enacted reforms to end
juvenile system fees. In 2021 alone, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia, and
California all passed reforms to eliminate some or all juvenile fees and end the
debt-based punishment of low-income children and families. Now, it’s Florida's turn. Let’s
seize the opportunity.

Key Findings
● Florida charges children, young people, and their families 31 different fees and
costs for their involvement in the juvenile system — regardless of guilt or
innocence. These fees include: court administration fees, medical care costs,
public defender fees, probation supervision fees, the costs of detention, and
surcharges.
● The immense debt that youth incur on account of these fees obliterates their
future prospects while driving them, and their families, deeper into poverty.
When children and their families cannot pay fees, these young people often face
extended probation and continue their system involvement with ever-increasing
costs, loss of driver’s license privileges, civil judgments, tax liens, and more
punishments.
● Fee debt imposed on children and their families is uncollectible — whether by
governments or private debt collectors. In 2019, only 11% — or $547,973 — of the
$5.1 million assessed against youth was collected.2 Florida counties that reported
data from private collections also confirmed that they collected negligible
2

2019 data on Florida's juvenile fees assessments and collections rates is available with the Fines and
Fees Justice Center upon request.

4

amounts of juvenile fee debt in 2019. Young people typically have no jobs and no
means to pay these fees. Thus, the debt often falls to their families, most of whom
are from low-income, marginalized communities.
● Juvenile fee debt drives recidivism and undermines the rehabilitative purpose
of the juvenile justice system. The accumulation of fee debt can push young
people toward recidivism as they search for any way to pay these fees.3 One
study has already confirmed this trend, finding higher recidivism rates for youth
who have court fines and fees imposed.4 Fees undermine the purpose of the
juvenile system — which should be to help support young people’s growth and
development and set them up for success.
● Black youth and their families carry a disproportionate amount of the costs and
fees imposed by the juvenile system — some of which are imposed regardless of
the young person’s guilt or innocence. From 2019 to 2020, Black youth comprised
21% of the population in Florida under 18, but accounted for 50.9% of youth
arrests5 and it is the arrests that determine which Floridians will be saddled with
fee debt.
● Youth in both the child welfare and delinquency systems are particularly
vulnerable to the harmful effects of fees. Youth in the child welfare system do not
have financial support from their families or from the Department of Children and
Families; they are at greater risk of being pulled into the justice system and
acquiring fee debt. Youth in the child welfare system with fee debt can also have a
difficult time finding a permanent family because prospective caregivers have to
bear the burden of these costs to welcome these youth into their homes. Nearly
50% of children in the child welfare system become homeless within 18 months6 of
aging out of the system.
● Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and probation professionals oppose
fees on youth. The National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, The
American Probation and Parole Association, Fair and Just Prosecution, Law
Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration and Youth Correctional
Leaders for Justice all acknowledge the need to end juvenile fees.

3

Alex R. Piquero, Wesley g. Jennings, “Justice System-Imposed Financial Penalties Increase the Likelihood
of Recidivism in a Sample of Adolescent Offenders”. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 15, no. 3 (July
2017): 325–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/1541204016669213.
4
Piquero and Jennings, “Justice System-Imposed Financial Penalties Increase Likelihood of Recidivism”
5
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Disproportionate Minority Contact/Racial Ethinic Disparity
Benchmark Report FY 2019-2020, https://bit.ly/3mUVyDQ.
6
Shalita O’Neale, “Foster Care and Homelessness”, Foster Focus Magazine, Vol. 5 Issue 3 (August 2015),
https://bit.ly/3HCGK54.

5

How Juvenile Fees and Court Costs Pile Up
Youth who enter the justice system face fees at nearly every stage of their journey
through the courts — regardless of the offense or outcome of their case. Some or all of
these court costs are automatically imposed on youth or their families in all cases and
can include: court administration fees, medical care costs, public defender fees,
probation supervision fees, the costs of detention, and surcharges.
For example, while all youth have a right to counsel and to have an attorney appointed
for them if their family cannot afford one, there is a $50 application fee to apply for a
public defender and another fee to pay for a “free” attorney.
Youth placed on probation pay fees for supervision and additional fees if an ankle
monitor is required. And because probation typically continues until all fees are paid, the
fees for ongoing supervision and monitoring continue to mount. When families cannot
pay these fees, some children are forced to remain on probation for years until they age
out of the juvenile justice system. If these youth are ordered into detention or placement,
their parents must also pay room and board fees to the state.
Youth moving through the justice system are also likely to incur a host of other costs
including: the cost of their own prosecution, the expungement of their juvenile records,
and the suspension and reinstatement of their drivers licenses.

A CLOSER LOOK AT COURT COSTS:
According to a recent survey of juvenile defenders in Florida:
●
●
●
●

100% of respondents reported that their jurisdictions assessed court costs in
juvenile cases.
64.3% said their jurisdictions charged for probation costs such as supervision
and electronic monitoring.
50% of juvenile defenders stated that youth were charged to have their records
expunged.
78.6% of respondents said their judicial circuit charged a fee for a court
appointed attorney.

SOURCE: Surveys conducted by Stetson University College of Law students in the
Social Justice Advocacy Concentration, 2019 7

7

These surveys are on file with the Fines and Fees Justice Center and are available upon request.

6

For the complete list of costs, fees, and surcharges imposed on youth, including statutory
authority, amounts, and where the money goes if it is collected, see Appendix I. For a
sample memorandum of costs issued by the juvenile court, see Appendix II.

Fees Harm Youth, Families, and the Community
Youth, as a class, are unable to pay costs and fees. Young people are either in school,
too young to work, or in a position where working would disrupt schooling, counseling
and other programs designed to help them. Their inability to pay fees results in a
cascade of consequences that negatively impacts their families’ financial stability and
undermines public safety. For young people trying to get back on the right track, juvenile
fee debt — which can total thousands of dollars — is an impossible hurdle to clear.

Fees undermine the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system.
From the inception of the juvenile justice system over 120 years ago,8 juvenile courts
focused on rehabilitation, rather than punishment. These courts sought to “spare
juveniles from the harsh proceedings in adult court” and “the stigma of being branded
criminal”9 and adopted a less punitive and more therapeutic approach. They recognized
the clear distinction between juvenile misconduct and adult criminal conduct.
The rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile system is embedded in Florida’s Juvenile
Justice Act: “to increase public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency through effective
prevention, intervention, and treatment services that strengthen and reform the lives of
children.”10 The juvenile court has broad discretion to order services and responses that
will help a child, including diversion services, substance abuse treatment, community
service, and educational programs. Even when placed outside the home, youth are
entitled to education and mental health services in recognition of the system’s core
prevention, support, and treatment goals, and the unique developmental needs of
children.11 Fees assessed against youth undermine these goals.12
8

First established in 1899 in Cook County, Illinois and then rapidly spread across the country, the juvenile
court became the unifying entity that led to a juvenile justice system.” See https://bit.ly/3zlIFIc.
9
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “Juvenile Justice Reform Initiatives
in the States 1994-1996” pg. 36 (October 1997), https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles/reform.pdf.
10
The Florida Legislature, “Florida Statutes”, Fla. Stat. 985.01 (1)(a), https://bit.ly/3JFmDF3.
11
Office of the State Courts Administrator, “Juvenile Delinquency Benchbook” (Florida June 2021)
https://bit.ly/3JIVeBZ.
12
During recent litigation the State of Florida successfully argued that fees and costs are part of the
punishment imposed on people who violate the law (pg. 4 of https://bit.ly/3FPtSb4). In their subsequent
opinion the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed stating that “Court fees and costs imposed in a criminal
sentence...are part of the state’s punishment for a crime.”(pg. 32 https://bit.ly/3mV0Orh). Punishing youth
and/or their families upon whom the burden of fees and costs often fall is not consistent with the goals of
the juvenile justice system.

7

Today, the principle that children are “different” from adults permeates American
jurisprudence. The United States Supreme Court has relied repeatedly on an increasingly
settled body of psychological and neurological research that “show[s] fundamental
differences between juvenile and adult minds.” The Court’s decisions remind us of “what
any person knows” — that youth is a “time and condition of life” marked by behaviors,
perceptions, and vulnerabilities that change with age. Youth are “less mature and
responsible than adults” and “lack the experience, perspective, and judgment to
recognize and avoid choices that could be detrimental to them.”13 One of the key
conclusions of this research is that children’s attitudes, perceptions and behaviors are
not fixed — but can, and often do, change over time.

Juvenile fees deprioritize and disrupt education.
Education is the primary driver in determining future opportunities for young people; and
Florida’s own education law requires youth to attend high school full time through age 18,
with limited exceptions. Forcing young people to earn money to pay off system debt
disrupts their capacity to focus on, and succeed in, school and is likely to lead to
increased drop-out rates for system-involved youth.

Juvenile fees increase recidivism and poverty.
Youth who cannot pay are at increased risk of further system involvement, whether
because of the increased family tensions, the added economic stress, or simply because
some young people turn to illegal activities to try to raise the money to pay back their
system debt. One study has already confirmed this trend, finding there were higher
recidivism rates for youth with court fines and fees imposed.14 Additionally, limited
expungement opportunities for youth with juvenile records further restricts their access
to employment opportunities.
This cycle of inability to pay and punishment for non-payment pushes youth deeper into
the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and their families deeper into debt. Because
youth cannot pay fees, this debt often falls on parents and families — many of whom are
already struggling to pay basic living costs. The accumulation of juvenile fee debt often
forces parents to choose between putting food on the table, paying for rent, paying for
utilities — or paying down their child’s court debt.

13

J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 273 (2011) (citing Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 569 (2005));
Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104, 115 (1982), https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/564/261/
14
Piquero and Jennings, “Justice System-Imposed Financial Penalties…”

8

STRUGGLING FAMILIES HAVE NO SPARE INCOME TO PAY COURT FEES
In Florida, a person working on a minimum wage salary grosses $1600/month (less
than $20,000/year). The yearly costs15 for a single parent raising one child in Florida
are:
●
●
●
●
●

Approx. $4,500/year in food costs
Approx. $8,000/year in child care costs
Approx. $9,000/year in medical costs
Approx. $15,000 in housing costs
Approx. $9,000 in transportation

These costs alone, which total approx. $45,500, far outpace a single parent’s minimum
wage income; and fees from the justice system inevitably heighten family debt.

Fees exacerbate racial disparities.
Despite similar rates of offending, Black youth are disproportionately impacted by system
involvement. They are arrested at higher rates, processed into the juvenile and criminal
systems at higher rates, and are more likely to be incarcerated if adjudicated or
convicted. In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, Black youth comprised 21% of the population in
Florida under 18, but accounted for 50.9% of youth arrests and 53.8% of adjudications.16
As a result, Black youth and their families bear a disproportionate amount of the costs
and fees imposed by the juvenile and criminal systems. They also face higher
unemployment rates and poverty rates, coupled with lower education rates. The
convergence of these factors mean that the families and youth that require the most
support experience the most severe levels of state imposed debt and punishment.

Fees are especially damaging to youth in the child welfare system.
Youth in both the child welfare system and delinquency system are particularly
vulnerable to the harmful impacts of fees. They don’t have families to fall back on for
support, and the Department of Children and Families, which has become their guardian,
does not pay their debts. These youth also face increased incidence of involvement in
the juvenile justice system, where they can be adjudicated for running away from a
placement or acting out in residential facilities. After youth age out of the child welfare
15

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department. of Urban Studies and Planning, Living Wage
Calculator for Florida, https://livingwage.mit.edu/states/12; see Appendix IV.
16
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Disproportionate Minority Contact/Racial Ethinic Disparity
Benchmark Report FY 2019-2020, https://bit.ly/3mUVyDQ.

9

system, 40-50% become homeless within 18 months.17 In Florida, youth between the ages
of 18 and 21 in the child welfare system can qualify for continuing care only if they meet
certain educational requirements.
“Through no fault of their own, foster youth typically do not have the family
connections or wherewithal to satisfy the fees. Worse yet, owing fees can make it
hard for children to find a permanent family because prospective caregivers have
to bear the burden of these costs to welcome the youth into their homes."
- Paul Nigro, Florida Guardian Ad Litem regional director

DEVON’S STORY
After his father’s rights were terminated and his mother’s relinquished, Devon
was placed into the care of the Department of Children and Families.
Fortunately, Devon and his grandmother were very close and so she made
plans to adopt him.
But adopting Devon meant taking on $1200 in court fees that had been
assessed to him in a prior delinquency adjudication. Even though he completed
more than 120 hours of community service, wrote letters of apology, and took
the required anger management class, Devon’s case would not be terminated
until these fees were paid. His grandmother had no way to earn the income
needed to pay these — and so could not take on the debt required to adopt
him.
Fortunately for Devon and his grandmother, a dedicated Guardian ad Litem
(“GAL”) team filed a motion in the Circuit Court to have the fees waived due to
hardship. When the motion succeeded, they were told it was the first — and
only — time that fees had been waived in that court.

Juvenile Fee Revenue is Not Worth the Cost
Revenue collected from juvenile fees is not worth the cost to Florida’s families or
government. Because youth as a class cannot pay, and youth involved in the juvenile
system are disproportionately from poor families, the fee debt imposed on children and
their families is almost entirely uncollectible. In the 2019 calendar year, only 11% — or
$547,973 — of the $5.1 million dollars assessed against youth was collected. Additionally,
this negligible amount of revenue collected from fees does not even account for the
17

O’Neale, “Foster Care and Homelessness”.

10

costs associated with the assessment and collection of fee debt including salaries,
benefits and non-personnel expenses.
In a 2007 report, the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability
(OPPAGA) recommended that “the Clerks of Court Operations Corporation should
consider modifying the collection standard for the juvenile delinquency division [set then
as now at 9%] as collections are small, thereby allowing clerks to target their resources
toward divisions where defendants are more likely to be able to pay.”
The Clerks of Court, who are responsible for collecting court debt and reporting on
yearly collections, have also repeatedly recognized that youth cannot pay, noting in their
2019 5 Quarter report for Alachua (2019): “This group does not have jobs”; for Dixie
(2019): “Juveniles and their families are historically unable to pay”; Escambia (2019): “The
local economy and ability to pay affect the collection rate.”18
Florida law requires that unpaid court fees be sent to private debt collection companies;
and still, collections data show that these private efforts have little impact on collections
received. Of the counties that reported data on the private collection of juvenile fees in
2019, all reported negligible amounts of fee revenue received.

Source: Florida CCOC Collection Agent '19-'20 Annual Report. For additional county rates,
please see Appendix III.

18

Clerk of Court Quarterly Collections Performance Measure reports on file with authors and available upon
request.

11

Organizations that Oppose Fees on Youth
National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — the oldest judicial
membership organization in the country recognizes that core functions necessary for the
nation’s juvenile courts should be fully funded by governmental revenue and not by
revenue generated by fines, fees, and costs.19
The American Probation and Parole Association — the leading voice of the community
corrections industry, and the field’s leading professional membership association,
recognizes that officers are spending time collecting financial assessments instead of
focusing on their responsibilities to supervise and assist in rehabilitation. The Association
calls for a focus on restitution over fines and fees.20
Fair and Just Prosecution — an organization that brings together newly-elected local
prosecutors as part of a network of leaders committed to promoting a justice system
grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility calls for the abolition of
fines and fees during the COVID pandemic, and urges states to work to make these law
and policy changes permanent.21
Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration — a group made up of
over 200 current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, federal and state prosecutors,
attorneys general, and correctional officials from all 50 states calls for an end to the
imposition of criminal justice debt on youth.22
Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice — a coalition of current and former leaders of
youth justice agencies called for the immediate suspension of all fines and fees during
the COVID pandemic. 23

19

“Resolution Addressing Fines, Fees and Costs in Juvenile Courts”, National Council of Juvenile and
Family Court Judges, March 2018, https://bit.ly/3sXfvhu.
20
“Resolution on the Use of Monetary Judgments for Justice-Involved Individuals”, American Probation and
Parole Association, March 2017, https://bit.ly/3FPzPVs.
21
“Call For a Nationwide Moratorium on Juvenile Fees and Fines”, May 2020, https://bit.ly/3mRE1g8.
22
“Ensuring Justice and Public Safety: Federal Criminal Justice Priorities for 2020 and Beyond, Law
Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration, April 2020, https://bit.ly/332Hpxl.
23
“Recommendations for Youth Justice Systems During the COVID-19 Emergency”, Youth Correctional
Leaders for Justice, (March 2020 ) https://yclj.org/covid19statement.

12

States Across the Country Are Eliminating Juvenile Fees
In just seven years, a growing number of states — both red and blue — have enacted
reforms to curb juvenile fees and protect children in the juvenile system.
Texas — In 2021, Texas eliminated a wide range of juvenile fees, including fees for
court-ordered treatment, out-of-home placements, graffiti eradication, diversion, DNA
testing, teen court, teen dating violence court, drug education, and alcohol awareness.
Louisiana — In 2021, Louisiana eliminated all fees for those under age 18 in both the
juvenile and adult systems, including fees for care and treatment, counsel, and probation
supervision.
Oregon – In 2021, Oregon eliminated all fees and fines and wiped away all outstanding
juvenile justice system debt.
New Mexico — In 2021, New Mexico eliminated all juvenile fees and fines, including
penalties of up to $100 for possession of marijuana and the nonrefundable “application
fee” for a public defender.
Colorado — In 2021, Colorado eliminated all juvenile fees and discharged all outstanding
juvenile fee debt.
Virginia — In 2021, Virginia eliminated juvenile fees charged to the parents of youth
detained or committed to the state Department of Juvenile Justice.
New Jersey — In 2021, New Jersey passed two bills eliminating almost all remaining fees
and financial penalties, and canceled all outstanding debt related to these fees.
Maryland — In 2020, Maryland eliminated all juvenile fees and fines, including fees for
legal representation, cost of care, and other court costs, and fines imposed for motor
vehicle violations, possession of tobacco, and falsifying identification. The law also ended
the collection of outstanding debt.
New Hampshire — In 2020, New Hampshire costs of services and child support imposed
on parents of youth in the justice system.
Nevada — In 2019, Nevada eliminated all juvenile fees, including fees for cost of care,
court programs, drug and alcohol evaluation, and court-appointed representation.
California — In 2018, California eliminated almost all juvenile court fines and fees.
Legislation in 2020 forgave all outstanding juvenile justice system debt.
Washington — In 2015, Washington eliminated numerous juvenile diversion fees, court
costs, appellate courts fees, adjudication fees, and certain fines.

13

Why Florida Should Lead the Next Wave of States
Ending Juvenile Fees
Over the past decade, the Florida Legislature has promoted children’s futures by
removing roadblocks to jobs, education and vocational training, and safe housing.
The Legislature has recognized that many childhood misbehaviors are rooted in a
response to trauma, victimization, and untreated mental health issues, and that
intervention and treatment are better courses of action than harsh penalties, sanctions,
and overly restrictive programs. This has led to several successful reforms aimed at
improving the lives of young people including:
The Safe Harbor Act presumed victimization and coercion into child sex trafficking rather
than delinquency (2012)
Lowering the age for expunction of juvenile records and keeping records confidential
by providing law enforcement the authority to not place juvenile arrests online (2014)
Expanding civil citations has resulted in tens of thousands of children avoiding needless
arrest records (2015)
Banning child marriage has practically eliminated forced marriage (2018)
Expanding juvenile diversion opportunities has given children new paths to clearing
their records (2018); and, removing the statute of time limitation for sexual battery against
children has brought abusers to justice (2020).
Expanding automatic expunction for nonjudicial juvenile arrest records for any offense
if the individuals completed diversion programs, passed both the House and Senate
unanimously but vetoed by the Governor (2021), has been revised and is expected to
pass unanimously again and be signed into law next year.
The Debt-Free Justice for Children Act (HB257/SB428) is the next step in Florida’s
efforts to prioritize and protect children’s futures. This bill would eliminate 31 court fees
and costs currently imposed on all youth up to age 18 and their families, and extend
these protections for youth who qualify for extended care in the child welfare system up
to age 21. The law would also vacate all outstanding fee orders, vacate the related debt,
and reinstate driving privileges for those youth who lost them for failure to pay fees.
The Debt-Free Justice for Children Act will give youth the chance to pursue their dreams
without the burden of fee debt. It will help families rediscover the hope that is too often
crushed by piling court bills; and it will provide Florida with a key opportunity to lead the
next wave of states ending juvenile fees.

14

Appendices
APPENDIX I: List of Florida’s Costs and Fees Imposed on Youth
Court Costs, Fees,
and Service Charges
Description

Juvenile

Young
Adult/Crossover

If collected, where are
the fees distributed?

Indigent/Public
Defender Application
Fee (Florida Statute
27.52)

$50

$50

98% to the Indigent
Criminal Defense Trust
Fund, 2% for
administrative
costs/General Revenue

Driver License
Reinstatement Fee –
Civil (FL Statute
318.15)

$60

$60

Highway Safety
Operating Trust Fund

License Suspension Criminal
(FL Statute 322.245)
Court Costs - Crime
Prevention
(FL Statute
775.083(2))
Additional Court
Costs

$25 Delinquency
Fee

$25 Delinquency Fee

$60 Reinstatement
Fee

$60 Reinstatement Fee

$20 Misdemeanor,
Other

$20 Misdemeanor,
Other

$50 Felony

$50 Felony

N/A

$3

(FL Statute 938.01)
Crimes
Compensation Trust
Fund Cost

$50

$50

(FL Statute 938.03)
Add. Court Costs
(FL Statute 938.05)

N/A

$225 Felony
$60 Misdemeanor
15

Delinquency Fee: $10 to
General Revenue; $15 to
the Clerk of the Court;
Reinstatement Fee:
Highway Safety
Operating Trust Fund

Crime Prevention Fund

92% to FDLE CJ
Standards and Training
TF; 6.3% to FDLE Op.
TF; 1.7% to DCFS DV TF
$49 to Crimes
Compensation Trust
Fund; $1 to the Clerk of
the Court
$25/$10 to General
Revenue; Remainder to

$60 Criminal Traffic
Fee imposed in
controlled substance
offense (FL Statute
938.055)
Court Cost - Crime
Stoppers

N/A

$100

Operating Trust Fund of
the Department of Law
Enforcement

N/A

$20

$17 to Crime Stopper
Trust Fund; $3 to Clerk
of Court

$201

$85 to the Domestic
Violence Trust Fund;
$115 to the county; $1 to
the Clerk of the Court

$151

$150 to the Rape Crisis
Program Trust Fund; $1
to the Clerk of the Court

$151

$151

$50 to Guardian Ad
Litems; $100 for
Children's Advocacy
Centers; $1 to the Clerk
of the Court

N/A

$15

$14 to County Drug
Abuse Trust Fund; $1 to
the Clerk of the Court

N/A

$2

(FL Statute 938.06)
Surcharge - Domestic
Violence program
funding

N/A

(FL Statute 938.08)
Surcharge - Rape
Crisis Centers

$151

(FL Statute 938.085)
Additional Court Cost
(FL Statute 938.10)
Additional Court
Cost-Misdemeanors
involving drugs or
alcohol

Fine and Forfeiture
Fund

(FL Statute 983.13)
Additional Court
Cost-Local Criminal
Justice Education

To the county for criminal
justice education

(FL Statute 938.15)
Additional Court
Cost-Teen Court

Up to $3

Up to $3

(FL Statute 938.19)

16

Teen Court, 5%($0.15)
retained by the Clerk for
admin. costs.

Amount up to statutory
fine amount of
underlying charge

County Alcohol and
Other Drug Abuse Trust
Fund or Grants and
Donations Trust Fund of
the Dept. of Children
and Families

No less than $50
for misdemeanor
or criminal traffic;
no less than $100
for felony

No less than $50 for
misdemeanor or
criminal traffic; no less
than $100 for felony

To entity that incurred
investigation expense
(agency trust funds,
FDLE); Cost of
prosecution to State
Attorneys Revenue Trust
Fund

Cost of Public
Defender
(FL Statute 938.29)

No less than $50
for misdemeanor
or criminal traffic;
no less than $100
for felony or VOP

No less than $50 for
misdemeanor or
criminal traffic; no less
than $100 for felony or
VOP

Indigent Criminal
Defense Fund

Additional Court
Costs and
Surcharges
(FL Statute 939.185)
(Miami-Dade Only)

$65 + $85

$65 + $85

Clerk of Court’s Fine
and Forfeiture Fund

Additional
Assessment- Alcohol
and Drug Abuse
Programs

N/A

(FL Statute 938.23)

Cost of Prosecution
and Investigation
(FL Statutes
938.27/985.032)

Expungement Fee
(FL Statute 943.0515)

$75

N/A

Department of Law
Enforcement Operating
Trust Fund

Subsistence Fees
(FL Statute 944.485)

N/A

Amount of daily
subsistence costs

Department of
Corrections

N/A

NTE actual cost +
$2/month surcharge;
Misdemeanor
Supervision
$40+/month; Cost of
electronic
monitoring/urinalysis,
etc.

NTE actual cost &
$2-DOC for probation
officer’s training &
Equipment; $40 to
supervision provider;
Costs of electronic
monitoring/urinalysis to
provider

Cost of Supervision,
Electronic Monitoring
(FL Statute 948.09)

17

Reimbursement to
Crime Victims’
Services Office

Up to $1000

Up to $1000

Right to counsel,
eliminates waiver,
reasserts no fee
for indigency
application

N/A

Crimes Compensation
Trust Fund

(FL Statute 960.28)
Right to Counsel
(FL Statute 985.033)
Cost of Supervision
and
Cost of Care

$1/Day, $5/Day
N/A

Department of Juvenile
Justice

Program Fee
(Judicial Circuit to
determine)

N/A

If the program imposes
a fee, the clerk of the
court of the applicable
county must receive a
reasonable portion of
the fee.

Bond payment by
parent/guardian

N/A

Reimbursement for
expenses of
emergency
treatment or care

N/A

The county or the state

Varies

N/A

The witness

(Assessed against
parent(s)/guardian)

(FL Statute 985.039)
Civil Citation and
Prearrest Diversion
programs
(FL Statute 985.12)
Neighborhood
Restorative Justice
programs
(FL Statute 985.155)
Medical, psychiatric,
psychological,
substance abuse,
educational
examination and
treatment
(FL Statute 985.18)
Court and Witness
Fees (FL Statute
985.331)

18

APPENDIX II: Sample Memorandum of Costs Issued by the Juvenile Court

19

APPENDIX III:
Florida Counties; Private Collection Rates for Juvenile Fees FY 2019-2020

COUNTY

COLLECTIONS SENT

COLLECTIONS RECEIVED

Citrus

$6,822

$835.00

Highlands

$77,601.73

$7,138.02

Lee

$30,687.00

$3,319.20

Okeechobee

$11,786.97

$35.00

Orange

$0.00

$3,000.00*
(from previous years sent)

Saint Lucie

$644,354.59

$3685.34

Volusia

$10,125.00

$900.00

Statewide

$781,377.29

$18,912.56

20

APPENDIX IV: LIVING COSTS ON A MINIMUM WAGE INCOME
1 ADULT
(WORKING)

2 ADULTS
(1 WORKING)

NUMBER OF CHILDREN

NUMBER OF CHILDREN

NUMBER OF CHILDREN

1

2

3

1

2

3

1

2

3

FOOD

4,670

6,990

9,294

7,238

9,305

11,345

7,238

9,305

11,345

CHILD
CARE

8,319

16,638

24,957

0

0

0

8,319

16,638

24,957

MEDICAL

9,421

9,109

9,249

9,109

9,249

8,903

9,109

9,249

8,903

HOUSING

14,980

14,980

20,114

14,980

14,980

20,114

14,980

14,980

20,114

TRANSPORTATION

9,378

11,672

13,896

11,672

13,896

12,611

11,672

13,896

12,611

CIVIC

3,889

3,554

4,127

3,554

4,127

3,982

3,554

4,127

3,982

OTHER

4,687

5,144

6,216

5,144

6,216

6,235

5,144

6,216

6,235

55,345

68,088

87,853

51,698

57,774

63,188

60,017

74,411

88,145

FLORIDA
LIVING
COSTS

REQUIRED
ANNUAL
INCOME
AFTER
TAXES

21

2 ADULTS
(BOTH WORKING)

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13. Office of the State Courts Administrator. “Juvenile Delinquency Benchbook”. June
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23

 

 

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