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Fine plus 440% for court costs, fees

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Fine plus 440% for court costs, fees

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 6, 2012


WARNING.

You don't want your ticket to end up in a courtroom at the McHenry County Courthouse!

Several years ago I began writing about the extortion level of court costs and fees that are added to fines levied by Circuit Court judges in McHenry County. In the beginning just a few judges forewarned defendants about excessive fees and costs and explained that the judges set only the fines, not the court costs and fees.

I remember my first attempt to learn what those extra costs were. A payment-window clerk told me that she couldn't tell me (because she didn't know?) and tried to get me to believe that they were set "by computer" and different for every conviction. After I persisted with my request, a sheet of paper with the list of costs was given to me.

Today's article in the Northwest Herald identifies line-by-line the court costs and fees that are added to a sample fine of $50.00. How much are they?

Try $220.00. That's TWO HUNDRED TWENTY DOLLARS, on top of a $50.00 fine. Those extra costs are 440% of the fine!

Some of the costs are determined at the county level by the McHenry County Board. Those are your elected officials, folks. The ones whom you elect. Remember this, when you go to the polls in November.

Other costs are set by State Representatives and Senators. Call their offices to express your outrage and remember them in November, too.

The County Board sniffled and postured at a new $2.00 court cost for State's Attorney automation. Their first vote was 11-11. Then they re-considered and voted 21-1. Only John Hammerand stood against the mob.

Where does your $220 go?

$35 for the four-hour traffic school
$35 sheriff’s court supervision fee
$25 court security fee
$15 to help fund the Illinois State Police
$20 traffic conviction surcharge
$15 court document fee
$15 court automation fee
$13 to help fund the Child Advocacy Center
$10 state’s attorney’s fee
$10 circuit clerk fee
$10 to help fund the mental health court
$5 to help fund the drug court
$5 electronic citation fee
$5 court fee
$2 to the state’s attorney automation fund.

One might ask, why $60 on top of every fine for court supervision and security? And $20 for "traffic conviction surcharge"? What a rip-off!

There would probably be a riot in the courthouse, except for all the over-staffing of armed court security officers standing around for hours on the first floor with little to do.

I've often considered conducting a survey of people approaching the courthouse and asking them how much they think their fine and costs will be. And then asking them, on their way out, how much they left in the courthouse!

But then they might be forewarned and express their outrage inside the building, rather than being shell-shocked and recovering only once they exit the building.



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