2010 Tennessee Code
Title 40 - Criminal Procedure
Chapter 24 - Fines
40-24-105 - Collection of fines, costs and litigation taxes Conversion to civil judgement.

40-24-105. Collection of fines, costs and litigation taxes Conversion to civil judgement.

(a)  Unless discharged by payment or service of imprisonment in default of a fine, a fine may be collected in the same manner as a judgment in a civil action. The trial court may also enforce all orders assessing any fine remaining in default by contempt upon a finding by the court that the defendant has the present ability to pay the fine and willfully refuses to pay. Costs and litigation taxes due may be collected in the same manner as a judgment in a civil action, but shall not be deemed part of the penalty, and no person shall be imprisoned under this section in default of payment of costs or litigation taxes. The following shall be the allocation formula for moneys paid into court: the first moneys paid in any case shall first be credited toward payment of litigation taxes and once litigation taxes have been paid, the next moneys shall be credited toward payment of costs; then additional moneys shall be credited toward payment of the fine.

(b)  The district attorney general or the county or municipal attorney, as applicable, may, in that person's discretion, and shall, upon order of the court, institute proceedings to collect the fine, costs and litigation taxes as a civil judgment.

(c)  Any fine, costs, or litigation taxes remaining in default after the entry of the order assessing the fine, costs, or litigation taxes may be collected by the district attorney general or the criminal or general sessions court clerk in the manner authorized by this section and otherwise by the trial court by contempt upon a finding by the court that the defendant has the present ability to pay the fine and willfully refuses to pay. After a fine, costs, or litigation taxes have been in default for at least six (6) months, the district attorney general or criminal or general sessions court clerk may retain an agent to collect, or institute proceedings to collect, or establish an in-house collection procedure to collect, fines, costs and litigation taxes. If an agent is used, the district attorney general or the criminal or general sessions court clerk shall request the county purchasing agent to utilize normal competitive bidding procedures applicable to the county to select and retain the agent. If the district attorney general and the criminal or general sessions court clerk cannot agree upon who collects the fines, costs and litigation taxes, the presiding judge of the judicial district or a general sessions judge shall make the decision. The district attorney general or criminal or general sessions court clerk may retain up to fifty percent (50%) of the fines, costs and litigation taxes to defray the costs of collection, or if an in-house collection procedure is established, the proceeds shall be treated as other fees of the office. The district attorney general and the clerk shall have the costs of collection under this chapter defrayed for all fines, costs, and litigation taxes collected after they are in default. When moneys are paid into court, the allocation formula outlined in subsection (a) shall be followed, except up to fifty percent (50%) may be withheld for these collection costs, with the remainder being allocated according to the formula.

(d)  (1)  The governing body of any municipality may by ordinance authorize the employment of a collection agency to collect fines and costs assessed by the municipal court where the fines and costs have not been collected within sixty (60) days after they were due. The authorizing ordinance shall include the requirement that the contract between the municipality and the collection agency be in writing.

     (2)  The collection agency may be paid an amount not exceeding forty percent (40%) of the sums collected as consideration for collecting the fines and costs.

     (3)  The written contract between the collection agency and the municipality shall include a provision specifying whether the agency may institute an action to collect fines and costs in a judicial proceeding.

     (4)  Nothing in this subsection (d) shall be interpreted to permit a municipality to employ a collection agency for the collection of unpaid parking tickets in violation of § 6-54-513.

(e)  If any fine, costs or litigation taxes assessed against the defendant in a criminal case remain in default when the defendant is released from the sentence imposed, the sentence expires or the criminal court otherwise loses jurisdiction over the defendant, the sentencing judge, clerk or district attorney general may have the amount remaining in default converted to a civil judgment pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.  The judgment may be enforced as is provided in this section or in any other manner authorized by law for a civil judgment.

[Acts 1972, ch. 729, § 3; T.C.A., §§ 40-3209, 40-3205; Acts 1991, ch. 467, § 1; 1992, ch. 956, § 1; 1996, ch. 826, § 1; 1996, ch. 920, § 1; 1997, ch. 325, §§ 1, 2; 2007, ch. 167, §§ 1, 2; 2009, ch. 570, § 1; 2009, ch. 577, § 2.]  

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