FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/12/2011
Rep. Guillen Passes Legislation to Help Defendants Who Can't Pay Court Fees Up Front
Bill gives defendants more flexibility by offering payment schedule set by the court
AUSTIN -- Last Friday, the Texas House of Representatives voted in favor of State Rep. Ryan Guillen's House Bill 27, which provides defendants who can't pay court fines up front with the opportunity to pay court costs in installments.
Current law permits, but does not require, courts to give similarly situated defendants this two option. House Bill 27 ensures that if someone can't pay up front, they would be able to pay costs in installments, which will allow counties and municipalities to collect more of the fines over time.
"In many instances defendants are unable to meet their court obligations regarding payment of fines and court costs," said Rep. Guillen (District 31). "Payment plans encourage fulfilling these financial obligations by making it easier to pay. It protects the interests of low-income Texans while ensuring judges the discretion to deal with cases on a case-by-case basis and in a manner that doesn't violate the goal of equal protection."
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and Task Force on Indigent Defense testified in support of the legislation. The bill now awaits vote in the senate.