Whether they are called administrative assessments, surcharges, court costs, privilege taxes, docket fees, or something else, ultimately, these are catch-all fees that legislatures impose to collect money exclusively from people drawn into a state’s justice system. They are fees imposed in nearly every criminal, traffic, or local ordinance case—regardless of the offense, sentence, or circumstance of the particular case. These fees are used to fund court systems, pad state and county budgets, or fund a wide array of government agencies or programming, sometimes not even related to the court systems. They are a hidden tax imposed for being a part of the court process.
Read FFJC’s 50-state report on assessments & surcharges here.