Local News

N.C. court fees go up

Posted September 1, 2009 5:48 a.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2009 10:06 a.m. EDT

— Doing business in a North Carolina courthouse got more expensive on Tuesday, for actions from filing for foreclosure to paying traffic tickets.

A number of court fees were increased as part of $1 billion in new revenues the Democratic-led Legislature and Gov. Beverly Perdue agreed upon to balance the state's $19 billion budget.

A sampling of the fee increases include:

  • failure to appear in court, up $100 to $200
  • filing for foreclosure, up $75 to $150
  • traffic ticket, up $9 to $130
  • seatbelt or helmet violation, up $26 to $126
  • name change, up $37 to $88
  • criminal background check, up $10 to $25

Those who can't afford to pay the fees on their court date can sign up for an installment plan – which carries a new $20 fee.

Thomas Goodwin paid $245 in court fees Monday for a traffic ticket and missed court date. He said he was relieved that he narrowly escaped the fee increases.

"As a recent graduate, it was kind of hard to put the money together just to pay this, so I wouldn't have been able to" pay the higher fees, Goodwin said.

Critics said the fee increases unfairly target those who already hurting financially.

"It's hitting those people who simply did not take care of a minor ticket because of financial distress to begin with," defense attorney William Young said.

Court officials said the raised fees increase the incentive to obey the law.

In Wake county, 12 percent of people fail to show on their court date, said Clerk of the Court Lorrin Freeman.

"We hope that maybe with this increase, it will encourage more people to come to court," Freeman said. "If we all believe in fair and open court, it is something that we all have to shoulder together."