Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sheriff plans to charge offenders for investigative costs

Pasco deputies will note the time spent investigating a crime on a new space on an arrest affidavit. The Sheriff’s Office hopes to recoup that money from defendants who are convicted.

Pasco County Sheriff\u2019s Office

Pasco deputies will note the time spent investigating a crime on a new space on an arrest affidavit. The Sheriff’s Office hopes to recoup that money from defendants who are convicted.

NEW PORT RICHEY — In these lean economic times, Sheriff Bob White has identified a new source of revenue: Pasco's criminals.

The sheriff, who will release his annual budget request today, plans to start charging fees to recover the cost of deputies' time spent investigating crimes. And the people paying the fees will be the ones who committed the offenses.

"In this current budget crisis, we're looking at any way we can to continue operating and provide the best service we can," sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

It will work like this: In the arrest reports filled out by deputies, there will be a new space for indicating the number of hours spent investigating, multiplied by an hourly rate. The Sheriff's Office will forward the requested fee to the State Attorney's Office, which will then ask judges to impose the fine as part of a defendant's probation.

An identical program has been in place in Pinellas and other Florida counties for years. State law allows it.

The fee applies only to people who are convicted of crimes or traffic offenses. Pasco will charge its base salary and benefits of a rookie deputy, $26 an hour, and the base for forensics investigators, $18 an hour.

For someone arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, the Sheriff's Office says the typical investigation — from the traffic stop to completion of the report — is about two hours.

Cost to the drunk driver: $52.

This fee is in addition to numerous court costs already footed by criminals for things like DNA tests and indigent clients' defense.

Bob Dillinger, the elected public defender whose office represents those who can't afford an attorney, called the fee "horrible."

"If you don't have the money, it just puts you in a hole that you can't get out of," he said.

Keith Hammond, a private defense attorney, echoed that.

"Especially in these rough economic times, I think we have the working class guy out there struggling to make it, and they add more court costs," Hammond said. "Now, on the other hand, people will say maybe they shouldn't get into trouble, but sometimes things happen."

But Doll said the fee is not intended to punish anyone.

"It's meant to recover taxpayers' dollars for the cost of criminal investigations," he said.

Florida Tax Watch, a watchdog group in Tallahassee, took issue with that justification, as the money isn't going back to taxpayers' pockets.

"This would be a great opportunity to reduce the tax burden for law-abiding citizens. It's unfortunate that local governments weren't using innovative ideas like this to lower taxes years ago," said communications director Robert Weissert. "But as they say, necessity is the mother of innovation."

Doll agreed the effect won't be a tax break for residents. White expects to recoup an estimated $50,000 to $100,000, which would be new revenue for the Sheriff's Office.

"I think the amount of money we're talking about recouping, it wouldn't have been enough to reduce taxes anyway," Doll said. "But every little bit helps."

In Pinellas, the money adds up to an average of $230,000 a year, sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said. It comes in different ways, sometimes through payment plans with installments as low as $3.

But every convict pays it.

"It's across the board," she said.

Staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Sheriff plans to charge offenders for investigative costs 05/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2008 3:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  3. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire

    Criminal

    PORT RICHEY

    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.
  4. Florida starter under center still under wraps

    College

    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  5. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.