California Outlaws Big Bills For Minor City Violations

Sunday, September 9, 2018

As excerpted from NPR:

Cities in California can no longer tack on exorbitant legal fees to settle minor local code violations, thanks to a new law enacted this week.

The law makes it illegal for cities and counties to charge defendants for the legal costs to investigate, prosecute or appeal a criminal violation of a local ordinance.

"We made the argument that, yes, people should comply with local code enforcement laws, but violations should remain in the civil side of prosecution instead of the criminal side," says Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella.

He co-sponsored the bill with Republican Chad Mayes, of Yucca Valley.

Assemblyman Garcia says he "wanted to correct a wrong and make sure it doesn't happen to other people."

The law, signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown, applies mainly to local ordinances. It still allows cities and counties to try to collect fees for probation, tax, insurance and other more serious violations.