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2024 California Rules of Court

Rule 4.335. Ability-to-pay determinations for infraction offenses

(a) Application

This rule applies to any infraction offense for which the defendant has received a written Notice to Appear.

(b) Required notice regarding an ability-to-pay determination

Courts must provide defendants with notice of their right to request an ability-to- pay determination and make available instructions or other materials for requesting an ability-to-pay determination.

(c) Procedure for determining ability to pay

(1)  The court, on request of a defendant, must consider the defendant's ability to pay.

(2)  A defendant may request an ability-to-pay determination at adjudication, or while the judgment remains unpaid, including when a case is delinquent or has been referred to a comprehensive collection program.

(3)  The court must permit a defendant to make this request by written petition unless the court directs a court appearance. The request must include any information or documentation the defendant wishes the court to consider in connection with the determination. The judicial officer has the discretion to conduct the review on the written record or to order a hearing.

(4)  Based on the ability-to-pay determination, the court may exercise its discretion to:

(A)  Provide for payment on an installment plan (if available);

(B)  Allow the defendant to complete community service in lieu of paying the total fine (if available);

(C)  Suspend the fine in whole or in part;

(D)  Offer an alternative disposition.

(5)  A defendant ordered to pay on an installment plan or to complete community service may request to have an ability-to-pay determination at any time during the pendency of the judgment.

(6)  If a defendant has already had an ability-to-pay determination in the case, a defendant may request a subsequent ability-to-pay determination only based on changed circumstances.

Rule 4.335 adopted effective January 1, 2017

Advisory Committee Comment

Subdivision (b). This notice may be provided on the notice required by rule 4.107, the notice of any civil assessment under section 1214.1, a court's website, or any other notice provided to the defendant.

Subdivision(c)(1). In determining the defendant's ability to pay, the court should take into account factors including: (1) receipt of public benefits under Supplemental Security Income (SSI), State Supplementary Payment (SSP), California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS), Federal Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, California Food Assistance Program, County Relief, General Relief (GR), General Assistance (GA), Cash Assistance Program for Aged, Blind, and Disabled Legal Immigrants (CAPI), In Home Supportive Services (IHSS), or Medi-Cal; and (2) a monthly income of 125 percent or less of the current poverty guidelines, updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under 42 U.S.C. § 9902(2).

Subdivision (c)(4). The amount and manner of paying the total fine must be reasonable and compatible with the defendant's financial ability. Even if the defendant has not demonstrated an inability to pay, the court may still exercise discretion. Regardless of whether the defendant has demonstrated an inability to pay, the court in exercising its discretion under this subdivision may consider the severity of the offense, among other factors. While the base fine may be suspended in whole or in part in the court's discretion, this subdivision is not intended to affect the imposition of any mandatory fees.

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