Kansas City, MO asked in Traffic Tickets for Iowa

Q: What a criminal surcharge

For driving mistakes

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1 Lawyer Answer
Benjamin Kohn
Benjamin Kohn
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Licensed in Iowa

A: Although it may seem esoteric, from a philosophical and legislative capacity role, fines serve a particular role in connection with criminal offenses: to punish for the violation so that there is a deterrence to committing the offense by that example, and to rehabilitate by using the negative consequence to try to shape the offender's future decisions.

A criminal enforcement surcharge is basically a quasi-civil assessment primarily set for the purpose of funding law enforcement grants and programs (including, I believe, the Traffic Safety Bureau the State runs for special purpose grants to local law enforcement agencies, which the legislature decided made sense to place some of that burden isolated on those who've committed traffic violations. The amount of the assessment is set as 35% of the scheduled fine.

The amount due upon a guilty plea or finding resulting in conviction for Iowa scheduled traffic violations is comprised of a scheduled fine amount, the 35% criminal enforcement surcharge, and court costs (typically fixed at $60 per count, and are also assessed to recover the costs the court system incurs for adjudicating and transacting traffic cases). The apportionment of this revenue, once collected, is different for each pot of money. Court Costs go to the court system, and the allocation between the general fund of the prosecuting government entity (City, County, or State) and other governmental entities, departments, or programs of the scheduled fine is different than for the criminal surcharge.

More practically, it mostly operates as an itemized system for accounting who gets what share of the ticket revenue transacted through the clerk of court.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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