SB 262

Session
Regular Session 2018
Title
Courts, magistrates, fees and costs, authorized to assess, duties, use of electronic communication for notification purposes authorized, Secs. 12-14-51, 12-19-150 am'd.
Description

Under existing law, docket fees and other court costs in criminal cases may be assessed by a judge upon conviction

This bill would allow magistrates to assess the fees and other costs upon conviction

Existing law provides for the duties of a municipal court magistrate

This bill would give a magistrate the discretion to use electronic communication to notify defendants of any legal process required by the court in lieu of other forms of notification required by law

This bill would also provide a municipal court magistrate with absolute judicial immunity under certain conditions

Relating to magistrates; to amend Section 12-14-51, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to the duties of a municipal court magistrate; to further authorize the use of electronic communication with a defendant in lieu of other forms of notification; to provide the magistrate with absolute judicial immunity under certain conditions; and to amend Section 12-19-150, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to the assessment of fees in criminal cases, to provide that a magistrate may assess fees in the criminal cases over which he or she presides.

Subjects
Crimes and Offenses
View Original PDF: SB 262 - Introduced - PDF

Under existing law, docket fees and other court costs in criminal cases may be assessed by a judge upon conviction

This bill would allow magistrates to assess the fees and other costs upon conviction

Existing law provides for the duties of a municipal court magistrate

This bill would give a magistrate the discretion to use electronic communication to notify defendants of any legal process required by the court in lieu of other forms of notification required by law

This bill would also provide a municipal court magistrate with absolute judicial immunity under certain conditions

Relating to magistrates; to amend Section 12-14-51, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to the duties of a municipal court magistrate; to further authorize the use of electronic communication with a defendant in lieu of other forms of notification; to provide the magistrate with absolute judicial immunity under certain conditions; and to amend Section 12-19-150, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to the assessment of fees in criminal cases, to provide that a magistrate may assess fees in the criminal cases over which he or she presides.

Section 1

Sections 12-14-51 and 12-19-150, Code of Alabama 1975, are amended to read as follows:

§12-14-51.

(a) The magistrates shall be considered the chief officers of the municipal court administrative agency.

(b) The Supreme Court may, by rule, prescribe procedures for the appointment of magistrates by class or position and, in addition thereto, provide for the appointment of other magistrates by the Administrative Director of Courts, upon recommendation by municipal judges.

(c) The powers of a magistrate shall be limited to the following:

(1) Issuance of arrest warrants.

(2) Granting of bail in minor misdemeanor prosecutions in accordance with the discretionary bail schedule and approving property, cash, and professional surety bonds upon a municipal judge's approval.

(3) Receiving of pleas of guilty in minor misdemeanors where a schedule of fines has been prescribed by rule.

(4) Accountability to the municipal court for all uniform traffic tickets and complaints issued, including all electronic traffic tickets or e-tickets, as defined in Section 32-1-4, in instances in which the court has, in its discretion, determined to use e-tickets, and for all moneys received and records of offenses.

(5) Accepting and screening affidavits of substantial hardship upon a municipal judge's approval and, if authorized by court order, assigning attorneys on a rotating basis from a list approved by the court.

(6) Conducting arraignments and setting nonguilty pleas for trial, upon a municipal judge's approval.

(7) Opening court and calling the docket, upon a municipal judge's approval.

(8) Granting continuances in municipal ordinance violation cases, upon a municipal judge's approval.

(9) Dismissing no driver's license violations pursuant to Section 32-6-9 where the defendant shows proof of a driver's license at the time the citation was written.

(10) Dismissing mandatory liability insurance violations pursuant to Section 32-7A-20 where the defendant has produced satisfactory evidence that at the time of the citation the motor vehicle was covered by a liability insurance policy in accordance with Section 32-7A-4.

(11) Dismissing equipment violations where a municipal ordinance allows and where the law enforcement officer signs the uniform traffic ticket and complaint verifying that the equipment has been replaced.

(12) Using emails or text messages to notify a defendant of any legal process required by the court in lieu of any other form of communication as provided for by law, at the discretion of the municipal court clerk and the magistrate.

(12) (13) Any other authority as may be granted by law.

(d) In the performance of any official duty provided for by this section, a municipal magistrate shall have absolute judicial immunity from any lawsuit arising from the execution of the duties provided for by this section.

§12-19-150.

(a) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state that docket fees and other court costs in criminal cases shall generally be assessed only upon conviction. It is further declared to be the policy of the state that a creditor shall not use the criminal process in order to collect civil debts. The state does recognize that situations will arise from time to time wherein justice may best be served by allowing a judge to enter an order dismissing a case upon the payment of costs by the defendant or by the complainant where the judge has determined that the criminal process has been abused.

(b) Docket fees and other court costs in criminal cases shall be assessed upon conviction; provided that, in the interest of justice, following an arrest or the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of a defendant, a judge may in his or her discretion, on motion of the district attorney or upon his or her own motion, enter an order prior to trial dismissing the case. Such order may be conditioned upon the defendant's payment of the docket fee and other court costs accruing in the proceeding. It is further provided that such costs may be taxed against any person who has made a complaint upon which a warrant was issued and who subsequently requests that such case be dismissed without just cause or legal excuse. A judge may excuse payment of fees in any case wherein the defendant serves an active jail sentence.

(c) For the purpose of assessing fees in criminal cases, a case shall include all offenses arising out of the same incident. Fees shall be assessed on the basis of the most serious offense of which the defendant is convicted, provided, that the judge or magistrate, in his or her discretion, may assess costs for each conviction. When two or more defendants are charged in the same indictment or complaint, fees shall be assessed against them separately, as if they had been charged separately.

(d) If an appeal is taken from the district court or the municipal court in a criminal case, the clerk, in making records available to the circuit court, shall submit a cost bill from the district court or municipal court, and the final assessment of cost will be made in circuit court, including unpaid court costs and fees from district, municipal, and circuit courts."

Section 2

This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.

No articles found.
Action Date Chamber Action
March 20, 2018SAssigned Act No. 2018-365.
March 20, 2018SEnrolled
March 20, 2018HSignature Requested
March 20, 2018SPassed Second House
March 15, 2018HMotion to Read a Third Time and Pass adopted Roll Call 849
March 15, 2018HThird Reading Passed
March 8, 2018HRead for the second time and placed on the calendar
March 1, 2018HRead for the first time and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Judiciary
March 1, 2018SEngrossed
March 1, 2018SMotion to Read a Third Time and Pass adopted Roll Call 588
March 1, 2018SSmitherman motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 587
March 1, 2018SSmitherman Amendment Offered
March 1, 2018SSmitherman motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 586
March 1, 2018SJudiciary Amendment Offered
March 1, 2018SSmitherman motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 585
March 1, 2018SJudiciary Amendment Offered
March 1, 2018SSmitherman motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 584
March 1, 2018SJudiciary Amendment Offered
March 1, 2018SThird Reading Passed
February 22, 2018SSmitherman motion to Carry Over to the Call of the Chair adopted Voice Vote
February 22, 2018SThird Reading Carried Over to Call of the Chair
February 15, 2018SRead for the second time and placed on the calendar 3 amendments
January 30, 2018SRead for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary
2018-03-15
Chamber: House
Result: Passed
2018-03-01
Chamber: Senate
Result: Passed
2018-03-01
Chamber: Senate
Result: Passed
2018-03-01
Chamber: Senate
Result: Passed
2018-03-01
Chamber: Senate
Result: Passed
2018-03-01
Chamber: Senate
Result: Passed