In today’s post I’m sharing two draft forms with which a defendant might gather information about his or her financial situation and, based on that situation, request relief from various monetary obligations, including costs, fines, and restitution.
The first form, available here, is intended to be used at sentencing to pursue front-end relief, like a waiver of court costs or a decision not to impose a fine. It prompts the defendant to include information about his or her monthly income and expenses in support of the requested relief.
The second form, available here, is meant to be used after sentencing, perhaps at a probation violation hearing or show cause hearing, or as a standalone vehicle for requesting later relief from obligations imposed at sentencing.
I am especially interested in your feedback about the contents of the questions meant to give a picture of the defendant’s ability to pay. The data points I chose to include came from a variety of sources, including similar resources in use in other states—and of course the short list of factors the court is required under North Carolina law to consider whenever ordering restitution. G.S. 15A-1340.36(a). But if you think other data might be helpful, please let me know.
Once the final contents of the form are settled, we’ll incorporate them into a mobile and web application that walks the user through a dialogue that draws out the necessary information and populates it into the form. I’ll also pair both forms up with an order through which the court can respond to the requested relief. An earlier draft of that is available here, but I am streamlining it. Thank you to those of you who provided feedback on it.