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If you are pulled over for speeding, there is always the chance that you could be charged with additional violations, such as failure to wear a seatbelt or failure to display a valid front license plate. If you end up with multiple violations on one ticket, there is a chance that the court fees you face will end up costing you as much as the fines for your violations. While it seems unfair, the law regarding court fees in Ohio allows municipal courts to charge fees for each individual offense, even if all your violations are handled as one case.
The Ohio Revised Code provides that in all criminal cases the judge shall include the costs of prosecution into any judgment against the defendant. The Ohio Supreme Court has defined the costs of prosecution to be the statutory fees to which officers, witnesses, jurors, and others are entitled for their services in an action or prosecution. In addition to the costs of the actual prosecution, these standard court fees also include some state mandated fees such as those for funding public defenders and providing aid to the victims of crime.
The Ohio Supreme Court has noted that the legislature’s purpose in imposing court costs on the defendant convicted of a crime is to finance the court system and not to punish the defendant for each charge. Accordingly, the court fees you pay for the costs of prosecution are charged on a per case basis and not for each individual violation.
The danger of facing court fees for each charge on a ticket comes from what are called special project fees. Special project fees are authorized by the Ohio Revised Code and allow a municipal court to charge a fee on the filing of each criminal cause if it determines additional funds are necessary to acquire and pay for special projects of the court. These special projects can include the acquisition of additional facilities, the rehabilitation of existing facilities, the acquisition of equipment, hiring and training of staff, mediation or dispute resolution services, or the employment of magistrates.
The Ohio Supreme Court has determined that based on the law’s plain language a municipal court can charge a special projects fee on the filing of each criminal cause in addition to other court costs.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently examined the use of special project fees and found that since the law allows each municipal court to establish its own fees, the application of fees varies widely even within the same county. As an example, the newspaper found that in Lake County three municipal courts utilized special project fees in completely different ways. One court imposed fees only once regardless of how many charges were on a ticket, another imposed special project fees for each charge, and the third charged project fees in different ways based on whether any of the charges were dismissed.
If you are driving through a municipality that aggressively utilizes special project fees, you could end up facing hundreds of dollars in courts fees along with the already substantial fines imposed for any violations. You will want a Columbus traffic attorney who is experienced with traffic offenses to help defend you and prevent the court fees from adding up.
Luftman, Heck & Associates has experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyers who have handled all manner of traffic cases ranging from speeding to DUIs. Call us today at for a free and confidential consultation.