Among the common penalties for criminal convictions are monetary sanctions. There are a wide range of such sanctions that can be imposed in criminal cases, including fines, surcharges, restitution, fees and probation-related costs. All different sorts of criminal offenses here in Minnesota, from relatively “minor” ones to some of the most serious, can carry such penalties with them.
Financial penalties in criminal cases can have all kinds of impacts on a person. So, what monetary sanctions they could end up facing in connection to the crimes they have been accused of can be an important piece of information for a defendant to have when making important decisions in their case. Skilled defense attorneys can help defendants have the right information at hand during the various key decision-making moments in their case.
A recently released report did an in-depth review of financial penalties in Minnesota’s criminal justice system. The report comes out of a multistate research effort. Multiple academic institutions are involved in this project, including the University of Minnesota.
The report comes out as the research effort’s first phase has come to completion. The report reviewed the use of monetary sanctions in Minnesota and eight other states.
The report found that monetary sanctions are routinely used in criminal cases here in Minnesota. It also found there to be a great deal of complexity and variation when it comes to such sanctions in the state. The report tied this to the decentralized nature of Minnesota’s criminal justice system.
The report noted that this could pose problems to individuals when it comes to keeping track of the financial obligations they have as a result of monetary sanctions. Losing track of one’s obligations or having a particularly high amount of sanctions could lead to a person falling behind on making payments on the sanctions. Falling behind on such payments could expose a person to serious consequences, including a license suspension or a significant damaging of their credit rating.
Given these things, the report argued that Minnesota’s current system regarding monetary sanctions has the potential to produce “a cycle of disadvantage” for those issued sanctions.
This raises questions as to whether Minnesota should consider changes to it practices regarding monetary sanctions. What changes do you think should be made on this front?
It will be interesting to see what else the research project finds regarding monetary sanctions in Minnesota as its research continues.