In October of 2021, Florida’s lawmakers filed the Debt Free Justice for Children Act. This act would omit costly court fees charged to minors as a form of punishment for their criminal charges. In this post, our juvenile defense lawyer will explain why this is beneficial for all minors and why its implementation should be supported.
Texas and Louisiana were the first states to implement the laws concerning excessive fees in the juvenile system. They enacted similar reforms earlier in the year of 2021.
The push for this policy came about due to a number of reasons, including:
- In the year 2019, there were $5.1 million dollars in total fees charged to minors, yet only about $500,000 of debt was paid.
- Not only is the amount collected minimal, but agencies incur significant time, money, and effort in managing and attempting to collect the outstanding debts. It takes numerous employees to organize, administer, and continually hunt down this debt which resulted in little success.
- Much of the burden for these fees falls on parents, who do not prioritize such costs.
Other Effects from Placing Fees on Minors
Statistics have shown that financial penalties as a form of punishment can have large negative impacts on a child’s future. Children who have significant debts early in life have higher recidivism rates, and are often unable to seal or expunge records, have difficulty obtaining a driver’s license or even a job.
Alternative Punishments for Minors
Instead of placing fees on minors, judges can order community service, rehab, commitment to programs, or other non-monetary forms of punishment. These forms of punishment are still effective and can actually help realize change in a juvenile’s life.
Contact Our Team for Juvenile Defense Support
Financial penalties directed at juveniles often carry over into their adult lives and put more pressure on parents than the child. In the long run, these debts are rarely collected and the administrative costs often outweigh the amount that is actually collected.
If you or someone you know has questions about juvenile charges, or is in need of juvenile defense support, contact our team of experts at any time on our website.