Effective June 21, 2012, Alabama court filing fees will increase for most case types.
According to the Administrative Office of Courts, the fee increase is necessary to prevent the already understaffed court system from being forced to layoff an additional 500 employees. Over the past few years, staffing levels have been reduced due to budget cuts, and many circuit clerks’ offices are now operating below 50 percent of the required staffing levels as called for by the National Center for State Courts. The legislative fiscal office believes the increased fees will bring in nearly $9 million for the rest of the fiscal year.
The only cases that will not see a filing fee increase are child support cases and juvenile cases. Under the new law, docket fees will increase by $45 for circuit and district civil cases. Criminal cases, excluding juvenile cases, will see a filing fee increase of $40. For small claim court cases, the fee will increase by $15. Traffic cases, with the exception of parking tickets, will go up by $26. Bail bonds will increase by $35 on each bond paid. Also, if convicted, the defendant must pay an additional bail bond fee of 3.5 percent of the face value of the bail bond. All fee increases are effective June 21, except the 3.5 percent bail bond fee, which will become effective on August 1.
The last court fee increase took place in 2004, but the money generated did not go back into the court system. In contrast, a portion of the funds generated as a result of the new fee increase will feed back into the operation of the court system. These new fees will be in effect until at least August 30, 2015.