Under VAWA 2000, this requirement applies to grantees under the STOP (Services*Training*Officers*Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grants (STOP), STOP Violence Against Indian Women Discretionary Grants (STOP VAIW) and Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders (Arrest) programs.
States, Indian tribal governments, units of local government, and state and local courts that apply for funding under the STOP, STOP VAIW, or Arrest programs.
Applicants for these programs must certify that their:
“laws, policies, and practices do not require, in connection with the prosecution of any misdemeanor or felony domestic violence offense, or in connection with the filing, issuance, registration, or service of a protection order, or a petition for a protection order, to protect a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, that the victim bear the costs associated with the filing of criminal charges against the offender, or the costs associated with the filing, issuance, registration, or service of a warrant, protection order, petition for a protection order, or witness subpoena, whether issued inside or outside the State, tribal, or local jurisdiction.”
This certification shall be treated as a material representation of fact upon which the Department of Justice will rely when it determines whether to award the grant.
For additional assistance in understanding the types of fees covered by this requirement and assessing your compliance, please see the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 Costs for Criminal Charges and Protection Orders Chart.
If the laws of the state, tribe, or unit of local government conflict with the provision described in question number 3, above, then the applicant will not be able to make the necessary certification, even if the jurisdiction has a policy of never charging fees.
If the statute is silent on the issue of fees, then the applicant may not need to pass a law because the policy does not need to be expressed in a law. However, the applicant will need to ensure that its policies and practices do not require victims to bear any of the relevant costs. We encourage applicants to pass a law or adopt a written policy to ensure that victims are not required to bear these costs.
In Fiscal Year 2003, all applicants under the STOP Program and those applicants under the Arrest or STOP VAIW Programs who have applied previously must be in compliance with this requirement prior to submitting an application. Those applicants under Arrest or STOP VAIW who have not applied previously have until the end of their next legislative session after their first application for such grant to fulfill the requirement.
This provision is designed to ensure that jurisdictions are not forcing victims to bear costs related to criminal and civil domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases. The intent of the statutory language is to ensure simply that all victims can access legal relief in the civil and criminal justice systems.
No, grantees can not use grant funds to cover the costs of these fees. Such use of grant funds would not comply with the VAWA 2000 provision because grantees are not entitled to funds unless they certify that they have met (or will meet in certain cases as described in question 6 above) the filing fee requirement. This certification is a prerequisite for receiving grant funds. Program funds may not be used to pay these filing fee costs, as Congress instructed grantees to certify that victim are not bearing these costs prior to receiving grant funds.
There is nothing in the law to prevent jurisdictions from charging respondents, defendants, and subjects of warrants and witness subpoenas. In fact, this may be a good way for jurisdictions to cover these costs.
Providing fee waivers only for victims below a certain income is not sufficient. The statutory requirement applies to all victims, regardless of income.
Charging victims up front and providing reimbursement also is not sufficient to meet the statutory requirement. Even if victims are fully reimbursed, this would require victims to “bear the cost” during the time from when they pay the fees until they receive the reimbursement, which is not permitted by the statute.
The statute specifies that the requirement applies whether the warrant, protection order, petition for protection order, or witness subpoena is “issued inside or outside the state, tribal, or local jurisdiction.” This makes it clear that victims can not be charged in such cases. However, the statute does not specify which jurisdiction is required to cover the fees in such a case.
The requirement specifically applies to an order “to protect a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.” This includes any civil order of any type or duration so long as it was issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts or harassment against, or contact or communication with or physical proximity to, another person. This includes orders issued by criminal courts, and pendente lite orders in other proceedings, as described in 18 U.S.C. § 2266.
If the person applying for the order is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and is applying to get an order because of that crime, then the order would constitute an order “to protect a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.” Jurisdictions may charge for these orders when the applicant is not a victim of these crimes.
The victim could not be charged for this because it would constitute a fee associated with the “filing, issuance, registration, or service” of a protection order.
This depends on the specific circumstances of the case. It is possible that a court may deny a protection order even though the petitioner is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. For example, if the state law requires physical abuse to have occurred within a certain time period, a victim could be denied an order because there was not a recent enough incident of physical abuse. The petitioner may be charged fees if the court makes a finding that the petitioner is not a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and denies the order based on that finding.
The provision does not limit the ability of a jurisdiction to charge fees for divorce cases. However, if a victim files for a protection order within the divorce case, the victim cannot be charged fees associated with the protection order.