The Ball Is in Your Court
An underdiscussed but vitally important aspect of today’s criminal justice system is the ever-expanding role of assessments charged to convicted defendants in criminal cases. These fines and fees charged by states and municipalities aim to minimize the cost of criminal prosecutions on the taxpayers and deter future criminal activity. Nationally, convicted persons are charged an average of $13,607 for conviction-related costs, including restitution and attorney fees. As Benjamin Sardinas notes in his May Illinois Bar Journal artilcle, “The Ball Is in Your Court,” nearly half of convicted persons’ families who helped cover those costs say they could not afford such fees and 38 percent of those families found court fees and fines the most difficult among the costs of conviction. Since the passage of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 472, correcting errors in the calculation and imposition of court assessments have become part of the responsibilities of trial prosecutors and defense attorneys. Sardinas reviews the history of correcting errors in sentencing, the changing legal landscape in the wake of Rule 472, and suggests how criminal trial attorneys may challenge assessments and sentencing errors to prevent their incidence and prevalence.
Read more in the May Illinois Bar Journal.