COLORADO — When Julissa Soto's son was a teenager, he found himself in trouble with the law.
From smoking weed to stealing toothpaste, Soto said they faced several challenges.
Soto, at the time, was a single mother working multiple jobs to provide for her family. When her son was sent to court, fees and fines ranging from $200 to $1,000 would come with it.
"Every time he would get in trouble it was more and more penalties," Soto said.
The financial cost became an additional challenge as she worked to get help for her son.
"We were also in trouble at home, because I had to pick and choose [to pay] those fees and paying my rent," Soto said.
A new law in Colorado aims to reduce most court fees and fines for juvenile offenders. Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law Tuesday. Soto, who testified in support of the bill says court fees impact low-income as well and communities of color.
The bipartisan-sponsored bill aims to reduce punishing people involved in the criminal justice system who are in poverty.
With the bill being signed into law, it also eliminates millions of dollars in outstanding fees.
The bill eliminates the following fees and fines.
- cost of care fees
- prosecution costs ( in juvenile court)
- public defender application processing fees
- a court reimbursement for attorney appointment when a parent is determined not to be indigent
- the crime victim’s compensation surcharge
- the victims and witness assistance and law enforcement surcharge
- the sex offender surcharge
- fees related to genetic testing
- time payment fees and late penalty fees
- fees related to a suitability assessment and restorative justice practices (juveniles may be charged this fee by a program, but it cannot be ordered to be paid by the court order)
- surcharges related to driving under the influence and other similar offenses
- fees related to community or public service
For the bill in its entirety, click here: Costs assessed to juveniles in the criminal justice system