Getting Relief from Criminal Monetary Obligations: New Webinar and FAQ on Rule 28 of the General Rules of Practice

In case you missed it, there is a new method of obtaining relief from criminal monetary obligations. Rule 28 of the North Carolina General Rules of Practice was adopted in December of last year and became effective on Jan. 1, 2022. The rule is titled “The Equitable Imposition of Monetary Obligations in Criminal and Infraction Cases Based on the Defendant’s Ability to Pay.” It directs trial courts to determine the defendant’s ability to pay before imposing any discretionary monetary obligations in covered cases. The Administrative Office of the Courts has rolled out a new form, AOC-CR-415, to assist with implementation. The new rule and form provide a pathway to relief for a substantial number of current and past defendants. I have created a webinar discussing the details here, which can be viewed for free or for a small fee if CLE credit is desired. In the spirit of the rule, the .75 hour of CLE credit is offered at a discounted rate. Check it out or read on for some frequently asked questions about the rule.

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New AOC Form for Relief from Monetary Obligations

The Administrative Office of the Courts has issued a new form, AOC-CR-415, through which a person can make a motion for relief from costs, fines, and other monetary obligations. The form also doubles as the order through which a judge can rule on the motion.

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“Pay to Play” Deferred Prosecutions

A district attorney generally has discretion in structuring his or her approach to deferred prosecutions. The DA could have a broad program, allowing deferrals for all defendants who might be eligible as a matter of law. Or there could be no program at all (aside from the handful of diversions that are mandatory in certain circumstances). Regardless, whatever program the State has must not discriminate against defendants based on an improper classification. Characteristics like religion and race obviously are not permissible bases on which to condition access to a deferral program. A more difficult question, though, is what role a defendant’s financial situation may play in the State’s decision to defer prosecution.

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