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IJ Takes on Abusive Fines and Fees

Millions of Americans must pay fines and fees to the government for a range of violations. The Institute for Justice wants to ensure that these systems comply with the Constitution.

Excessive Fines & Illegal Fees

If you have violated local and state laws, the government will likely punish you with fines and impose fees for various things, like drug testing or a court reporter. However, there are limits on how the government may force you to pay. If you have experienced any of the following, you could be the victim of excessive fines or illegal fees:

  • You have been fined repeatedly for small violations, and now you owe tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in fines;
  • You have ever been forced to pay a third party (that is, someone other than the government, like a private company or individual) to cover the costs of your own prosecution;
  • Your fines were so severe that you were unable to pay them, and now the government has initiated a foreclosure action to take your property in order to collect what you owe; or
  • You have ever been threatened with imprisonment for failure or inability to pay.

If you have been fined or threatened with fines in a manner similar to the instances described above, the Institute for Justice may be able to help you.

Code Enforcement & Violations of Property Rights

Sometimes the government fines people not for what they do, but for the condition of their property. This is called code enforcement, but often code enforcement goes too far. For example, some cities ban people from engaging in completely harmless activities on their property, like growing vegetables in their front yard, parking a work truck in their driveway, or operating a home-based business. In other instances, the government may find violations for seemingly frivolous things, like tall grass, mismatched drapes, or peeling paint. Ordinances like these may violate owners’ rights.

If you have code-enforcement efforts like the ones listed above, your rights may have been violated and the Institute for Justice wants to hear your story.

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