Last week we started talking about the financial consequences of taking a plea bargain for a criminal charge in Tuscaloosa. In that post we discussed (1) court costs in general and (2) restitution. The third broad category of costs associated with criminal court is fines and fees.
Court costs, simply put, cover the actual cost of going to court. Restitution covers costs connected to damage to a victim’s property (and sometimes person). Fines and fees don’t fit into either one of those categories. The easiest example is the money you pay when you have to pay a traffic ticket.
In this blog we will break down the main fees associated with a conviction and plea bargains in Tuscaloosa County and the State of Alabama.
1. Victim’s Compensation Assessment:
- Statute: Ala. Code 15-23-17
- Applies to: any felony or misdemeanor conviction in Alabama.
- Amount: a minimum of 25.00 for a misdemeanor and 50.00 for a felony. In Tuscaloosa, you can expect the judges to only impose the minimum amount.
2. Drug Demand Reduction Assessment:
- Statute: Drug Demand Reduction Assessment Act, Code 13A-12-280 to 284
- Applies to Felony drug convictions (misdemeanors are not included). Generally:
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Distribution of a controlled substance
- Possession of marijuana in the first degree
- Drug trafficking charges
- Amount: $1,000.00 for a first drug offense and $2,000.00 for a subsequent drug offense.
Other important information: based on section 13A-12-284 of the statute, a defendant can have some or all of the fee under this section waived. That section says that if a defendant successfully completes treatment, the judge can reduce the fee by the amount that the defendant spent on treatment. For example, if you spent $750.00 on a treatment program which you successfully completed, the judge may reduce the $1000.00 assessment to $250.00. The judge will likely want to see proof of how much you actually spent on treatment (receipts, letters from the treatment center, etc.).
3. Forensic Trust Fund Fee:
- Statute: Ala. Code 36-18-7
- Applies to convictions of drug charges including misdemeanors: “any conviction in any court of the state for drug possession, drug sale, drug trafficking, and drug paraphernalia offense as defined in Sections 13A-12-211 to 13A-12-260, inclusive”
- Amount: $100.00
4. Bail Bond Fee:
- Statute: Ala. Code 12-19-311
- Applies to: convictions where a defendant was released on bond before the case was resolved. It’s important to recognize that this is separate than the bond amount you may have posted to get out of jail. The bail bond fee is not the bond you post. It’s the fee you pay for having posted your bond.
- For a misdemeanor: 3.5% of the bond amount, with a minimum of $100.00 and a maximum of $450.00.
- For a felony: 3.5% of the bond amount, with a minimum of $150.00 and a maximum of $750.00.
The biggest fees you are likely to pay as a result of conviction in Tuscaloosa County are your bail bond fee and the Drug Demand Reduction fee (if applicable). Remember, if you are required to pay a Drug Demand Reduction Assessment that amount can be reduced by showing proof of treatment costs and successful completion of treatment.