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Fee dodgers, beware

by CHANSE WATSON
Managing Editor | April 6, 2021 7:00 AM

WALLACE – Individuals with past due fines and fees with Shoshone County may have a rude awakening on the horizon, as the Prosecutor and Clerk offices' are cracking down following the dispersion of the latest CVOID-19 stimulus checks.

Shoshone County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Ben Allen explains that their office is presently conducting an audit of cases that have past due fines and fees.

"There are thousands of residents that have wound up in the court system and incurred fines and fees as a result," he said. "Subsequently, some will then beg and plead with the court that they are not able to pay them."

With $1,400 recently going into every American's bank account through means of COVID-19 stimulus money though, the Prosecutor's Office argues that these delinquent individuals now have the means to pay- or at least, starting paying.

"Unfortunately, that money was not handed out with proper protections that sufficiently account for individuals that had outstanding debt that would have been owed to the government," Allen said.

Fines can be given out in numerous ways through the courts including as a penalty for being convicted of a crime, court costs, reimbursements, community service costs, probationary fees, and restitution to victims.

What this ongoing audit means is that if someone has outstanding debt with the local government and isn't making any attempt to repay that debt, they could face further criminal charges or be sent to collections.

For those on either supervised or unsupervised probation, the stakes are much higher, as failing to pay the fines will result in a probation violation and being summoned back to court. Criminal sentences often include provisions that jail time is “suspended,” so long as defendants pay all of their fines and do not violate the law further. a failure to pay these fines could actually lead to this suspended jail time being imposed or other repercussions assigned by a judge.

Allen argues that not only is the Prosecutor's Office doing the audit to ensure that criminals are being held accountable, but they always want to make sure funds get to entities that need it.

"If there are outstanding debts that are owed to the government entities that allow our county and cities to function properly, we want to ensure that those entities are receiving the payments that the courts have ordered individuals to make. The burden for funding the court system should not fall on the shoulders of the taxpayers who are following the law, but should be borne by those who are violating the law"

If you or someone you know would like to make a payment and avoid further collection action, contact the Shoshone County Clerk at 208-752-1266 or visit https://mycourts.idaho.gov.