Court fees increase Sept. 1

Published 6:51 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beginning September 1, both criminal and civil court fees are being increased pursuant to state orders.

To help meet a shortfall in the state budget, Clerk of Court offices around the state were notified this week about the increases, including those in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

While some fees are seeing a small increase, others are nearly doubling like failure to appear (FTA) and foreclosures.

Criminal fee increases include the following:

District criminal court costs will rise from $121 to $130.

Community service work fee will increase from $200 to $225.

Criminal record checks from $15 to $25.

Seatbelt and motorcycle/moped helmet violations from $100 to $126.

Failure to appear (FTA) fees will double from $100 to $200.

Failure to comply fees will now have a charge of $25.

Foreclosures will double from $75 to $150.

Civil fees are on the rise as well.

Vasti James, assistant clerk at the Bertie County Clerk of Court, said in most cases small claims are handled by the attorney.

Meanwhile, both Northampton County Clerk of Court Michele Spruill and Hertford County Deputy Clerk Leigh Ann Parker agree the fee increases need to be brought to the public’s attention.

The employees at the Clerk of Court Office are in constant contact with the public, which means dealing with people exhibiting different kinds of emotions.

Both Parker and Spruill noted the increases were mandated by the state and not local offices.

“We want them to know that it’s the (state) legislature that increased the fees,” said Parker. “We have no control over it.”

Parker said this is the second time recently the FTA fees have been increased. They first started out as $50 and then were doubled and now with the last increase are at $200.

She added employees of the courts have also suffered from the state deficit by taking a one-half percent decrease in pay for two months (May and June) as well as a 10-day furlough.

In Jackson, Spruill said her office is working to notify both law enforcement and citizens of the change.

“We need the general public to know it’s completely out of our hands,” she said. “I understand the state’s burden, the people in the (court) system are sharing in the cost.”