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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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South Carolina Court Administration
South Carolina Supreme Court
Columbia, South Carolina

ROSALYN W. FRIERSON
DIRECTOR

1015 SUMTER STREET, SUITE 200
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA  29201
TELEPHONE:  (803) 734-1800
FAX:  (803) 734-1355

MEMORANDUM

TO: 

County Treasurers

FROM: 

Robert L. McCurdy, Assistant Director

RE:  

Statutory provisions for the distribution of revenue generated by the circuit courts, family courts, magistrates courts and municipal courts; fees and related charges of the registers of deeds

DATE:   

June 26, 2009

This past legislative term legislation was passed that will impact the collection, distribution and reporting of court generated revenues. Over the last several years, the Legislature has included fees and assessment changes in the temporary provisos of the General Appropriations Act. Last year, with the passage of Act 353 of 2008, the Proviso Codification Act, eight of the provisos that had been repeated verbatim for the last several years were codified and are now permanent law. Those eight statutes are briefly discussed below in numbers 1 through 8. Several of the temporary provisos that have been included verbatim in the last several General Appropriations Acts have been repeated in the 2009 - 2010 General Appropriations Act. Those four provisos are briefly discussed below in numbers 9, 10, 12, and 13. Those statutes and provisos create no changes in the fees and assessments scheme from last year. Numbers 11 and 14 below briefly describe two new provisos included in the 2009-2010 and General Appropriations Act, which will have some impact on your County courts. Finally, number 15 below provides a correction from last year's Fees and Assessments memoranda.

The entire fees and assessments memorandum for fiscal year 2009 - 2010 will not be distributed in hard copy, but is available on the Judicial Department website at www.sccourts.org under “Court News.” You may wish to download and print the memoranda for your reference.

1. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 amended §§ 14-1-206, 14-1-207, and 14-1-208 to require that any person who is convicted of, pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, or forfeits bond for an offense tried in general sessions, magistrate's, or municipal court must pay an assessment equal to 107.5% of the fine imposed. Those statutes require that the assessment be split between the State and the county or municipality where the assessment was imposed. The statutes require that the assessment in general sessions will be distributed 64.65% state/35.35% county. The assessment in magistrate's and municipal court will be split 88.84% state/11.16% county.

2. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 adds §14-1-212 to the Code and requires that, in addition to all other assessments and surcharges, during fiscal year 2009 - 2010, a $25.00 surcharge is levied on all fines, forfeitures, escheatments, or other monetary penalties imposed in the general sessions court or in magistrates or municipal court for misdemeanor traffic offenses or for non-traffic violations. No portion of the surcharge may be waived, reduced, or suspended. These revenues shall be transmitted to the State Treasurer who shall distribute the money to numerous law enforcement agencies as prescribed by the Section. This Section also authorizes the State Treasurer and State Auditor to audit local jurisdictions to ensure that revenues are being handled properly.

3. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 adds § 14-1-213 to the Code and requires that, in addition to all other assessments and surcharges, during fiscal year 2009 - 2010, a $100.00 surcharge is levied on all fines, forfeitures, escheatments, or other monetary penalties imposed in the general sessions court or magistrates or municipal court for misdemeanor or felony drug offenses. All revenues collected pursuant to this Section must be forwarded to the State Treasurer, who shall transmit these funds to the Prosecution Coordination Commission for drug treatment court. No portion of the surcharge may be waived, reduced, or suspended. This Section also authorizes the State Treasurer and State Auditor to audit local jurisdictions to ensure that revenues are being handled properly.

4. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 amends §17-3-45 to provide procedures for the collection, distribution, and reporting of the $40.00 Public Defender Application Fee. The Section requires that any individual asking for a court appointed attorney, or the parents or legal guardian of any juvenile brought before the court, file application for a public defender, and such representation creates a claim against the assets and estate of the person who is provided counsel, or the parents or legal guardians of a juvenile provided counsel. Finally, this Section provides that any unpaid representation fees may be reduced to judgment against those individuals, parents, or legal guardians.

5. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 amends §14-1-204 to require that an additional filing fee of $50.00 be imposed on filings in Family and Circuit Court. This increase is in addition to the $100.00 fee required by Section 8-21-310 (11)(a). Therefore, the total filing fee in those courts for fiscal year 2009 - 2010 is $150.00. This increase also applies to filing and enrolling foreign judgments in Family and Circuit Court. The increased $50.00 fee must be separately transmitted to the State Treasurer.

6. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 adds §14-1-217 to the Code and provides that the State of South Carolina, or a person or entity acting on behalf of the State of South Carolina, is not required to pay civil filing fees in proceedings brought under Chapter 48 of Title 44, the Sexually Violent Predator Act.

7. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 adds §22-3-330 to the Code and requires that a $25.00 assessment be imposed on all summons and complaints and interpleader actions filed in magistrate court, and a $10.00 assessment be imposed on all other civil filings in magistrate court, except no filing fee, nor an additional assessment, is required on restraining orders. The additional $25.00 and $10.00 assessment must be forwarded to the State Treasurer for dispersal.

8. Effective July 1, 2009, Act 353 of 2008 adds §14-1-210 to the Code and authorizes the State Auditor to investigate the collection and distribution of court generated revenue at any level of court based upon a random selection process.

9. Effective July 1, 2009, Section 90.7 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2009 - 2010 General Appropriations Act requires that, in addition to all other assessments and surcharges, a $5.00 surcharge to fund training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy is also levied on all fines, forfeitures, escheatments, or other monetary penalties imposed in the General Sessions Court or in magistrate or municipal court for misdemeanor traffic offenses or for non-traffic violations. No portion of the surcharge may be waived, reduced, or suspended.

10. Effective July 1, 2009, Section 47.9 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2009 - 2010 General Appropriations Act raises the application fee for public defender services to $40.00. During the last Legislative Session, § 17-3-30(B) similarly raised the previous fee of $25.00 found in § 17-3-30 (B) to $40.00, making this fee permanent.

11. Effective July 1, 2009, section 47.14 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2009 - 2010 General Appropriations Act provides a procedure for the collection, distribution, and reporting of a $40 application fee for appointed counsel in civil actions. The Proviso requires that any person to whom counsel has been provided in any termination of parental rights, abuse and neglect, or any other civil court action, or the parents or legal guardians of a juvenile brought before any court, file application for court appointed counsel, and such representation creates a claim against the assets and the estate of the person who is provided counsel, or the parents or legal guardians of a juvenile provided counsel. Finally, this Proviso provides that any unpaid representation fees may be reduced to judgment against those individuals, parents, or legal guardians.

12. Effective July 1, 2009, Section 47.12 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2009 - 2010 General Appropriations Act requires that every person placed on probation on or after July 1, 2003, who is represented by a public defender or appointed counsel, shall be assessed a fee of $500.00. These funds shall be collected by the clerk on a monthly basis and forwarded to the Office of Indigent Defense to be divided between the Conflict Fund and the Defense of Indigents/Per Capita Fund. Provided, however, in those counties which contract with appointed counsel other than the public defender, one half of the fee collected may be remitted by the clerk to the county which contracts for payment of the services.

13. Effective July 1, 2009, Section 76.11 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2009 - 2010 General Appropriations Act provides that if a municipality fails to submit the audited financial requirements required under § 14-1-208 to the State Treasurer within 13 months of the end of their fiscal year, the State Treasurer must withhold all State payments to that municipality until the required audited financial statement is received.

If the State Treasurer receives an audit report from either a county or a municipality that contains a “significant finding” related to court fine reports or remittances to the State Treasurer’s Office, the requirements of proviso 89.72 shall be followed if an amount due is specified, otherwise the State Treasurer shall withhold 25% of all state payments to the county or municipality until the estimated deficiency has been satisfied.

If a county or municipality is more than 90 days delinquent remitting court fines, the State Treasurer shall withhold 25% of state funding for that county or municipality until all monthly reports are current.

After 90 days, any funds held by the State Treasurer’s Office will be made available to the State Auditor to conduct an audit of the entity for the purpose of determining an amount due to the State Treasurer’s Office, if any.

14. Effective July 1, 2009, Section 89.70 of the temporary provisions of the 2009 – 2010 General Appropriations Act provides that if the State Auditor finds that any county treasurer, municipal treasurer, county clerk of court, magistrate, or municipal court has not properly allocated revenue generated from court fines, fines, and assessments to the crime victim funds or has not properly expended crime victim funds, pursuant to Sections 14-1-206(B)(D), 14-1-207(B)(D), 14-1-208(B)(D), and 14-1-211(B) of the 1976 Code, the State Auditor shall notify the State Office of Victim Assistance. The State Office of Victim Assistance is authorized to conduct programmatic reviews on any entity or non-profit organization receiving victim assistance funding based on the referrals from the State Auditor or complaints of a specific nature received by the State Office of Victim Assistance to ensure that crime victim funds are expended in accordance with the law. Any local entity or non-profit organization who receives funding from victim assistance is required to submit their budget to the State Office of Victim Assistance within thirty days of the budget being approved by the local governing entity or non-profit organization. In addition, any entity or non-profit organization receiving victim assistance funding must cooperate and provide expenditure/program data requested by the State Office of Victim Assistance. If the State Office of Victim Assistance finds an error, the entity or non-profit organization has ninety days to rectify the error. An error constitutes an entity or non-profit organization spending victim assistance funding on unauthorized items. If the entity or non-profit organization fails to rectify the error within ninety days, the State Office of Victim Assistance shall assess and collect a penalty of the amount of the unauthorized expenditure plus $1,500 against the entity or non-profit organization for improper expenditures in a fiscal year. All penalties received by the State Office of Victim Assistance shall be credited to the General Fund of the State. If the penalty is not received by the State Office of Victim Assistance within ninety days, the political subdivision will deduct the amount of the penalty from the entity or non-profit organization’s subsequent fiscal year appropriation.

15. Finally, in last year's Fees and Assessments memoranda, we advised that Act No. 201 of 2008 amended the felony DUI statute, § 56-5-2945, so as to delete subsection (C), which requires that $100.00 of the fine be pulled out and forwarded to the State for the benefit of the Department of Public Safety. We have reviewed the Act and subsection (C) was not deleted. The $100.00 pull out still applies to felony DUI.

Copies of any of the legislation referenced above may be obtained by visiting their website at http://www.scstatehouse.net.

The enclosed memorandum has been updated to reflect these amendments and discusses these changes in more detail. This memorandum supersedes prior memoranda from Court Administration on the collection and distribution of court generated revenue. It attempts to outline and explain the statutory procedures for collecting and distributing revenues in the circuit, family, magistrate, and municipal courts as well as the register of deeds. Examples of several of the distributions covered in the text of the memorandum appear in the attachments.

The actual distribution of revenue generated by the circuit, family, and magistrate courts is handled by the county treasurer in most cases. City treasurers disburse monies generated by the municipal courts. The treasurers are required to remit the funds to the State Treasurer monthly on such forms and in such manner as is required by him. The county treasurer can determine which funds should be transmitted to the State Treasurer by referring to the clerks' remittance form which is included as "Attachment D", the magistrates' remittance form which is included as "Attachment E", or the magistrates' docket sheets. The city treasurer can determine which funds should be transmitted to the State Treasurer by referring to the municipal courts' remittance form which is included as "Attachment F." Additional information on how to specifically distribute funds is provided in the clerk's and magistrate's monthly report to the auditor and/or treasurer. Also, a judge’s total fine and assessment calculator is included as “Attachment M.” A list of State parking laws exempt from assessments can be found at “Attachment N” of the enclosed memorandum.

In this discussion of the distribution of funds, the general rule for each court is stated and followed by an explanation of the statutory exceptions for distribution. The outline which precedes the memorandum summarizes its contents. Please note in the memorandum specific time guidelines pertaining to the transmittal of these revenues. Strict, prompt adherence to the reporting guidelines is required.

Please provide copies of this memorandum to all members of your staff whose duties relate to the collection or distribution of court revenues. If you or your staff has any questions concerning the collection or distribution of revenue, do not hesitate to contact this office.