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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: 

Magistrates and Municipal Judges

FROM: 

Robert L. McCurdy, Assistant Director

RE:  

Statutory provisions for the distribution of revenue generated by the magistrates courts and municipal courts

DATE:   

June 24, 2010

This past legislative term legislation was passed that will impact the collection, distribution and reporting of court generated revenues. Numbers 1 and 2 below discuss new legislation which creates changes in last year’s fees and assessments structure.  Numbers 3-6 below address temporary provisos that have been repeated verbatim in previous General Appropriations Acts and are repeated again verbatim in the 2010 - 2011 General Appropriations Act. Those provisos create no changes in the fees and assessments scheme from last year.  Finally, number 7 below provides a correction from last year's Fees and Assessments memoranda.

The entire fees and assessments memorandum for fiscal year 2010 - 2011 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 June 2, 2010, R. 262, H. 1154 (Act No. not yet assigned) amends § 14-1-213 so as to increase the drug court surcharge from $100 per drug conviction to $150 per drug conviction.  The drug court surcharge is in addition to all other assessments and surcharges.   No portion of the surcharge may be waived, reduced, or amended.  The increased drug court surcharge applies to those convictions where the charges were initiated on or after the effective date of the legislation.  Those funds should be transferred to the State Treasurer on a monthly basis, who shall forward the proceeds to the Prosecution Coordination Commission.

2.  Effective June 2, 2010, R. 262, S. 1154 (Act No. not yet assigned) amended § 44-53-450(C) relating to conditional discharges for specified drug offenses, so as to require that before charges may be dismissed against a defendant pursuant to a conditional discharge in magistrate or municipal court, the defendant must pay a fee of $150.00, unless waived, reduced, or suspended by the trial judge due to indigency.  The conditional discharge fee applies to those conditional discharges where the charges were initiated on or after the effective date of the legislation.  Those funds should be transferred to the State Treasurer on a monthly basis, who shall forward the proceeds to the Prosecution Coordination Commission.

3.  Effective July 1, 2010, Section 90.5 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2010 - 2011 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.

4. Effective July 1, 2010, Section 47.8 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2010 - 2011 General Appropriations Act raises the application fee for public defender services to $40.00. Similarly, effective June 21, 2007, R154, S446, Indigent Defense Act, raised the previous fee of $25.00 found in § 17-3-30 (B) to $40.00, making this fee permanent.

5. Effective July 1, 2010, Section 76.10 of the Temporary Provisions of the 2010 - 2011 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 89.65 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.

6. Effective July 1, 2010, Section 89.65 of the temporary provisions of the 2010 – 2011 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.

7. Finally, an amendment has been made to “Attachment K,” which outlines civil fees and assessments which are collected in the magistrate courts statewide.  Previously, we had advised that the $25 surcharge required by §22-3-340 should be assessed against the non-prevailing party in an action for a restraining order prohibiting harassment and/or stalking.  After further review, this Office has determined that the $25 surcharge should not apply.  Therefore, effective immediately, only $55 should be assessed against the non-prevailing party in an action for a restraining order prohibiting harassment and/or stalking.

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 magistrates' remittance form which is included as "Attachment E." 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." Also, see “Attachment K” for a schedule of civil filing fees collected in magistrate’s court.  “Attachment L” includes a list of approved expenditures for victims’ funds.  Also, examples of specific fines and applicable assessments/surcharges are included as “Attachment M.”  A list of State parking laws exempt from assessments can be found at “Attachment N” of the enclosed memorandum.  Finally, “Attachment O” contains the judge’s total calculator.

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.

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Municipal Treasurers