Collection Fee on Restitution Payments In South Carolina

The trial court does not have the authority to waive the collection fee on restitution payments paid to the Department. State v. Shelton, 338 S.C. 350, 352, 526 S.E.2d 515, 516 (Ct. App. 2000). As the Department contends, the statute mandates that the Department assess a collection fee of twenty percent. S.C. Code Ann. 24-21-490(B) (Supp. 1999). The statute provides: Notwithstanding Section 14-17-725, the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services shall assess a collection fee of twenty percent of each restitution program and deposit this collection fee into a separate account. The monies in this account must not be used until specifically authorized by law. The department shall maintain individual restitution accounts which reflect each transaction and the amount paid, the collection fee, and the unpaid balance of the account. A summary of these accounts must be reported to the Governor's Office, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the Chairman of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee every six months following the enactment of this section. S.C. Code Ann. 24-21-490(B) (Supp. 1999). In Shelton, the trial court waived the collection fee regarding restitution paid through the Department. On appeal, this Court held that "the General Assembly's use of the term 'shall'" rendered the assessment of the collection fee a compulsory obligation which could not be waived by the trial court in the sentence imposed upon the offender. Shelton, 338 S.C. at 352, 526 S.E.2d at 516.