Court Fees Rise to Cover Bail Reform

court-feesAfter the vote on November 3rd that saw bail reform approved by 62% of voters in New Jersey, the state judiciary announced a rate hike in approximately 80 of its fees. This means filing a lawsuit, seeking a divorce and obtaining gun permits are no more expensive.

The extra cost to court users is expected to approach nearly $42 million per year. The extra money is scheduled to be used for creating a new system for assessing defendant’s bail status to implement changes state voters approved on November 3rd.

Some of the rate increases include:

–          Applying to get a criminal record expunged has risen to $75 from $52.50

–          Filing a lawsuit, an appeal or for divorce will now cost $50 more

–          Filing a small claim costs $35, up from $15

–          Permits to carry a handgun costs $50, up from $20

The last time court fees were raised was in 2002. The new changes are expected to increase court revenues by $42 million to $49 million per year. Bail reforms approved by 62% of voters in the November 3rd elections allow judges to order a defendant held in jail without bail if they’re considered a flight risk, a safety threat or likely to try to obstruct the criminal justice process.

Legislation implementing those changes will also loosen bail rules for low-risk offenders who aren’t deemed a safety risk. However, this will require new staff, electronic monitoring, drug testing and other services that could cost up to $35 million per year.

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