Civil Assessment Law and Legal Definition

A Civil assessment is an additional fee charged by a department of revenue or a court if a certain fine for traffic and criminal violations is not paid on time. If the delay caused in payment was due to genuine causes such as being in the hospital, on military duty or in jail, the civil assessment fee could be waived or if already paid, refunded.

According to the California Civil Code,

(a) In addition to any other penalty in infraction, misdemeanor, or felony cases, the court may impose a civil assessment of up to three hundred dollars ($300) against any defendant who fails, after notice and without good cause, to appear in court for any proceeding authorized by law or who fails to pay all or any portion of a fine ordered by the court or to pay an installment of bail as agreed to under Section 40510.5 of the Vehicle Code. This assessment shall be deposited in the Trial Court Trust Fund, as provided in Section 68085.1 of the Government Code.

(b) The assessment shall not become effective until at least 10 calendar days after the court mails a warning notice to the defendant by first-class mail to the address shown on the notice to appear or to the defendant's last known address. If the defendant appears within the time specified in the notice and shows good cause for the failure to appear or for the failure to pay a fine or installment of bail, the court shall vacate the assessment.

(c) If a civil assessment is imposed under this section, no bench warrant or warrant of arrest shall be issued with respect to the failure to appear at the proceeding for which the assessment is imposed or the failure to pay the fine or installment of bail. An outstanding, unserved bench warrant or warrant of arrest for a failure to appear or for a failure to pay a fine or installment of bail shall be recalled prior to the subsequent imposition of a civil assessment.

(d) The assessment imposed under subdivision (a) shall be subject to the due process requirements governing defense and collection of civil money judgments generally.

(e) Each court and county shall maintain the collection program that was in effect on July 1, 2005, unless otherwise agreed to by the court and county. If a court and a county do not agree on a plan for the collection of civil assessments imposed pursuant to this section, or any other collections under Section 1463.010, after the implementation of Sections 68085.6 and 68085.7 of the Government Code, the court or the county may request arbitration by a third party mutually agreed upon by the Administrative Director of the Courts and the California State Association of Counties.