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Published on Friday, February 28, 2014

Indigent defense funding bill amended back to original version

Earlier this session we reported on 2SSB 6249 that establishes three fee increases for criminal cases. Revenues from these fees would go towards public defense funding. The bill was amended in a policy committee and many of the fees were removed. This week, Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup) convinced the Senate Ways & Means committee to amend the bill back to its original version. The bill has passed out of Committee and will likely be voted on today by the full Senate.

The bill does the following:

  • Increases criminal conviction fee under RCW 3.62.085 from $43 to $55. Recommended by a Court Funding Work Group in 2005.
  • Allows cities to increase warrant service costs under RCW 10.01.160 from $100 to $175. This fee has not been adjusted since 1995.
  • Allows cities to increase probation service costs under RCW 10.64.120 from $100 per month to $150 per month. These fees have not been adjusted in decades.
  • The fees would be waived for indigent persons.

All of the revenues from the increases must be used for criminal justice matters connected with indigent defense cases. A study conducted by the Office of Public Defense shows that locally, indigent defense cases can represent up to 90 percent of all cases in some jurisdictions. AWC has worked closely with legislators to support funding mechanisms for our local courts to address indigent defense cases.

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