Court fines and penalties and court administrative fees

As discussed on PG. 656, court fines and penalties are debts you may get as punishment or consequences for the crime you were charged with. Court administrative fees are paid for the daily operation of the court. While these two debts are different, here these debts are discussed together because the court usually adds these fees together and requires you to pay them together and to one office.

How do I find out if I have any court fines and fees?

Contact the court where you were convicted

To find out how much you owe in court fines and fees, you should start by contacting the court in the county where you were convicted. You should try to provide your case number, however you may be able to locate your case using your name, birth date, and/or other personal information. If you have any court papers from your case, they will list your case number and the county you were convicted in. If you don’t have any of your court papers, you may need to get a copy of your RAP sheet to figure out what court(s) you have convictions from.

Find out where your debt is now

When you contact the court, the clerk should be able to tell you what you were ordered to pay, whether your case has been sent to collections, and if so, which collection agency now has your debt. Remember, if you have convictions from multiple cases, even if they are all in the same county, you will need to ask about every case.

If you have convictions from different counties, you will need to contact the court in each county.

Make sure to ask the court for the contact information for each and every agency that will be collecting your debt. If some or all of your debt is still with the court, ask the clerk how to contact the court’s “collection” or “revenue” unit (the department that keeps track of court-ordered debts and payments). (For a list of California county court collection unit contact information, see Appendix G, PG. 697.)

Contact the collection agency in charge of your debt

Once you know which collection agency is collecting your debt, you can contact them directly to ask how much you owe and how to pay. Remember that your debts may be collected by several different collection agencies, so you may need to contact all the different agencies to find out how much you owe in total. You may get shuffled around to many different people, but this is important, so be patient!