Senate Bill No. 234
(By Senators Jenkins and Miller)
[Introduced January 8, 2014; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §7-8-14 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to requiring defendants who are sentenced to jail to pay the costs of incarceration; limiting the amount to be paid to thirty days; and requiring the sentencing court to conduct a hearing at or before sentencing to determine the individual’s ability to pay the costs.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §7-8-14 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 8. JAIL AND JAILER.
§7-8-14. Reimbursement for costs of incarceration.
(a) Notwithstanding any provision to the in this code to the contrary and in addition to any fine, cost assessment or fee authorized or required to be imposed upon a person defendant by virtue of his or her conviction of a criminal provision of this code, or a lawfully enacted ordinance of a political subdivision of this state, a person defendant convicted and incarcerated in a regional jail by virtue of said the conviction may shall, subject to this section, be assessed the costs of up to thirty days of his or her the defendant’s incarceration.
(b) Prior to any person defendant being required to pay the cost of his or her incarceration pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the sentencing court, at or before sentencing, shall hold a hearing shall be held before the sentencing court to determine his or her the defendant’s ability to pay. The court may not sentence a defendant to pay his or her costs of incarceration unless he or she the defendant is, or in the foreseeable future will be, able to pay them. In determining the amount and method of payment of costs, the court shall take account of the financial resources of the defendant and the nature of the burden that payment of costs will impose.
(c) A defendant who has been sentenced to pay costs and who is not in willful default in the payment of the costs may at any time petition the sentencing court for remission of the payment of costs or of any unpaid portion of the costs. If it appears to the satisfaction of the court that payment of the amount due will impose manifest hardship on the defendant or the defendant’s family or dependents, the court may excuse payment of all or part of the amount due in costs, or modify the method of payment.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require a court to conduct a hearing at the time it sentences a defendant to jail to determine the defendant’s ability to pay the costs of the defendant’s incarceration. The bill requires the court to require the defendant to pay for up to thirty days of incarceration in jail if it finds the defendant is or will be able in the foreseeable future to pay.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.