Paper Example on Municipal Courts Slam the Poor Hardest

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1242 Words
Date:  2022-08-29


Laws are used in governing minor offences as well as ordinances, and in many states, the use of fines has been the best alternative for handling such crimes. The criminal justice system is mandated with the role of maintaining law and order by enforcing the law. The law provides for a framework on dealing with such cases. However, the criminal justice system fails to adhere to what is demanded of them and end up misusing their powers through heavy fines imposed on the poor who cannot afford to pay fines and fees. With the increase of low-level, offences such as traffic violations, walking with saggy pants, littering tickets, so is the increase in fines and fees issued by the courts. This is outright war and increased burden of criminalization of poverty to those who cannot afford to pay up the fines.

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Cities and municipal courts are using hefty fines as a source of revenue collection forgetting the effects it has on those who cannot afford to pay the fines. The fines are always doubled, or worse, tripled wit threats of jail terms when a minor offender cannot make the initial payment. The aim is to always collect as much as possible revenue from the fines and fees. It is, however, unclear whether the fines and fees accumulate any profits taking into consideration the costs used to collect the fines. A lot of money is used to issue an arrest warrant, cost of arrest and the cost of jail time.

The question then is, how is the collection of fines profitable if they are collecting from the poor who cannot afford them? In as much as they are making a good amount of money from those able to pay, it permanently ensnares the percentage of people who are unable to raise or pay their fines. Imposed penalties and percentages punish the poor for not making the initial payment. The courts also impose garnishments and orders of payroll deductions. Payroll deductions which affect a large percentage of a person's income may have negative and long-term effects on a person's financial status especially for someone already in a financial crisis. The courts are controlled by the ruling party to collect as much as possible from the minor offenders to enable them to run a state. This shows a lack of judicial independence. The lack of legal representation for offenders of the law, in this case, the minor offences, lack the bargaining power and end up being exploited by the issuance of hefty fines. In criminal cases, a person is entitled to legal aid and representation. Private law firms provide the legal aid and representation, and they have legal fees and case preference due to the increase in the number of cases they deal with every day. This makes it so difficult for poor offenders to get the legal representation because they can't afford it. The handling of minor offences is different from criminal cases where the state has the burden of proof, to prove that a person is guilty before conviction. In criminal cases, the state must prove all elements of an offence beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard of proof in minor offences is much lower, and in most cases use evidence for conviction which is bias and contrary to the rule of law.

Imprisonment of people who cannot pay their fines and court fees is unconstitutional. The courts should determine whether the persons in question can pay their fines and fees or not. Imprisoning people who are unable to pay fines and fees is a violation of equal protection and due process laws. The Equal Protection Clause prohibits a state from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection laws. Judges in most cases don't check the financial status of a person and loosely conclude that financial inability to pay up fines is used as a pretext to avoid paying fines and fees. The number of people jailed for failure to pay fines and fees is unclear. There's no information as to how many people are jailed for being unable to pay fines and fees. This makes it almost impossible to determine the costs used to pursue the debt owed to the courts. These costs may include the use of hired personnel to recover the fines. The costs used to arrest and keep the minor offenders in prison could be costly compared to the fines.

The threat of a jail term wreaks havoc on people's lives. The minor offenders are not given the chance of any payment method plans but rather threatened with jail terms for failure to pay their fines. The suspension of licenses in case one is unable to pay fines wreaks havoc on people's lives. The courts should at least have a hearing to determine whether one can pay up court fines or not. Courts should realize that with the high fines imposed and suspensions of licenses only make the offender poorer. Without licenses, one can easily lose their jobs and social services. Without a license, one cannot drive to work, and there are some companies or employment agencies that require licenses as a prerequisite for employment. Many minor offenders end up losing their jobs, and it is always a struggle to land into another job.

Imprisonment, on the other hand, disrupts a person's life. It creates a lot of instability in society and in the long run, affects the economy of the state. A good number of people lose their jobs and status when imprisoned; many employers are always reluctant to re-employ someone after they have served a jail term. After a jail term, it is always hard to cope in the society. The issues of housing, employment, and social benefits seem to be hard to find after a jail term. What happens to the family of the poor when they are serving jail terms? What if the offender is the breadwinner? Jail terms overburden the family of the offender. The rest of his family lack the support and the little financial help from their provider. Life is already too hard as it for the poor, and the courts without any sympathy and considerations overburden them with fines and costs and jail terms. The courts are supposed to protect us from exploitation, give us directions on how to follow the rules and laws in place, but not to overburden us with legal costs and fees.

On the flip side, in as much as we blame the courts for imposing hefty fines and jail terms, it should be upon us to avoid as much as possible breaking these minor offenses. We should always try to observe and maintain order, because if the courts will sit back and watch as these minor offenses such as traffic violations are broken, then we will not have a country. Laws and orders are the pillars upon which a society is made of, and without laws, it will be hard to maintain a stable community. However, courts should not use fines and fees collected from the minor offenders as a source of revenue collection but should focus more on educating the public on the effects of breaking the laws in place. It should always determine whether a person can pay the fines and other alternative solutions available for people who are unable to raise such fees. The effects of fines and fees on the poor are no doubt an unnecessary burden to them.

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Paper Example on Municipal Courts Slam the Poor Hardest. (2022, Aug 29). Retrieved from

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