Fines and Fees

IJ Battles Government Intrusions into Private Property

Since its founding 30 years ago, the Institute for Justice has fought to defend the rights of property owners.  As local governments are faced with budget shortfalls, they are turning to excessive fines and fees code violations to bridge the gap in their budget deficits.  Instead of protecting the lives and rights of their residents, these municipalities and counties are using their residents to make up for shortfalls in their budget and revenue.

The Institute for Justice does not believe that the municipalities’ budget shortfalls should be remedied on the back of their property owners.

In 2020, the Institute for Justice published Municipal Fines and Fees: A 50-State Survey of State Laws, which is the first comprehensive accounting of state laws relating to municipal fines and fees and highlights the nationwide issue of fines and fees abuse and  Cities and towns using their power to enforce traffic, property code and other ordinances to raise revenue rather than solely to protect the public.

Since starting to fight the abuse of fines and fees, IJ has launched 13 cases in 11 states.

“Policing for Profit” in Pagedale, Missouri

What would it be like if your homeowners’ or condo association had a police force? If, instead of just annoying you by nitpicking how your property’s paint looks or whether your barbequing with friends bothers the neighborhood busybodies, the association could ticket, fine, and even arrest you? And what would it be like if the association had an incentive to ticket you as much and as often as possible because it needed as much money as it could get its hands on?

This scenario was, unfortunately, a reality for the residents of Pagedale, Missouri. Learn more about this case here.

Victory in Charlestown, Indiana

When a small-town mayor in rural Indiana made it his personal mission to destroy a 70-year-old neighborhood and replace it with upscale houses for much wealthier people, IJ stepped in to fight for Pleasant Ridge residents.

In a diabolic scheme to drive out working-class residents, while violating constitutional guarantees of equal protection, then-Mayor Bob Hall led an effort that imposed millions of dollars in daily accruing fines to force Pleasant Ridge property owners to sell to a private developer for just $10,000 per home.

After a nearly four-year legal battle, Charlestown agreed to never again use its property maintenance code as a tool to force people out of their homes

What can I do about my expensive tickets or fees?

If you have received excessive fines, tickets, or court fees related to the operation of your car, code enforcement on your home, or impoundment of your car, are unable to obtain a license or permit because you owe money to the government for a parking ticket or fee, or you have gone through a fines or fees process that you were not given notice, present testimony or evidence, or other unfair processes, the Institute for Justice may be able to help vindicate your rights. 

Please report the fines and fees abuse you have encountered by submitting your case information below.  The Institute for Justice will contact you in 30 days if we can review your case.

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