Ability to Pay

The Judicial Council and eight California Superior Courts are working together to develop a new online option for people struggling with traffic court debt. The “MyCitations: Ability to Pay Determinations” tool allows people to look up their traffic citation, answer a series of simple questions and submit a request to the court for a possible reduction in the amount owed. Users can also request a payment plan, more time to pay or community service. An important alternative to appearing in person, this new option saves both the public and the courts significant time and resources.

Background

In October 2016, the Judicial Council of California (JCC) was awarded a “Price of Justice Initiative” grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to identify issues related to inability to pay criminal justice fines and fees.

An Ability to Pay Workgroup comprised of Superior Court presiding judges, traffic court commissioners, court executive officers, and representatives from the California State Association of Counties, the California District Attorneys Association, and the California Public Defenders Association came together to recommend strategies for addressing challenges encountered in traffic courts. The group agreed that improving access to a simple, standardized ability to pay process would bring benefits to the public and the courts.

Soon after, JCC staff awarded a contract to Global Justice Solutions to develop an software prototype to deploy in Superior Court pilot sites (Santa Clara, San Francisco, Shasta, Tulare, and Ventura). With the passage of SB 847 as part of the 2018-19 budget bill, the Ability to Pay Pilot Project expanded from five to eight pilot court sites (including El Dorado, Fresno, and Monterey).

Participating Pilot Counties

The MyCitations: Ability to Pay tool is currently available in Shasta and Tulare counties. San Francisco, Ventura and Santa Clara plan to adopt its use by the end of 2019. In a second phase of the project additional traffic court functions will be developed and implemented with all eight counties going live in 2020.

MyCitations Demo

Resources