A Report from Your New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys
New Jersey citizens are likely to pay higher court fees soon due to a provision in the governor's budget plan. Gov. Christie's budget includes plans to raise more than $50 million a year from increased court fees.
The fees will not be used to finance judicial operations. Rather, the funds will be diverted to other causes, like the funding of legal defense for people who cannot afford attorneys.
According to lawmakers, it has been necessary to increase the fees this year; the last comprehensive court fee increase was in 1991. At that time, the state court system was reeling under a shortage of judges leading to a backlog of cases. Since then, there were limited court fee increases in 1996 and 2002.
The present backlog in New Jersey courts can also be traced to a shortage of judges. Moreover, cases are being delayed because of the number of people who are unable to afford lawyers and are choosing to represent themselves. In fact, the number of people representing themselves has jumped 150 percent. Obviously, litigants with no background in law slow down the system.
New Jersey criminal defense attorneys have little information about what particular court fees will increase. However, Gov. Christie's plan gives the New Jersey Supreme Court a timeframe of seven months in which to raise the fees. The court is expected to hold public hearings to determine the increases. However, the increases are not likely to be implemented before summer.
The additional funds raised through increased court fees will help fund justice-related programs in New Jersey, like the state police lab, and the Victims of Crime Compensation Office. Approximately $17 million is expected to fund the development of a New Jersey digital court system that will go a long way in eliminating paperwork in our courts. This program will promote electronic filings in New Jersey.
The New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with DUI, drug crimes, sex crimes, assault, murder and other crimes across New Jersey.