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Quick Reference Guide and FAQ

Legal Authority:  Minn. Stat. § 609.101, subd. 4(2); Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.03

Policy:  Judicial Council Policy 506.1, Statewide Payable Offense Policy

Decision Maker:  The Judicial Council, with input from court personnel, judges, and our justice partners, annually reviews and approves the offenses included on the Statewide Payables Lists.      

Applicable Lists:  To determine whether an offense is payable, see:

  • Statewide Payables Lists
  • Judicial Council Policy 506.1, Statewide Payable Offense Policy
  • County payables list for ordinance violations

Payable Offenses:  The following are general guidelines about offenses that may be payable:

  • All petty misdemeanor violations of statute and administrative rule are payable, per the Judicial Council policy. (Petty misdemeanor offenses are payable even if not expressly identified on a Statewide Payables List.)
  • Misdemeanor violations of the Minnesota Statutes, the Minnesota Rules (Administrative Code), and the Code of Federal Regulations may be designated on Statewide Payables List as payable.
  • Petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor ordinance violations may be designated as payable within a county by the district court.
  • A citation is only payable if all offenses included are payable.

Mandatory Court Appearance: A court appearance is mandatory (offense cannot be payable) for:

  • All felony offenses.
  • All gross misdemeanor offenses.
  • All misdemeanor offenses unless designated as payable.
  • All petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor violations of ordinances, unless designated as payable within a county by the district court.
  • Any otherwise payable offense if the endangerment box is checked on the citation or the case is charged by complaint or petition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a payable offense?

A:  A payable offense is one for which the defendant may choose to pay a fine in lieu of appearing in court.  An offense is only payable if it has been designated payable by: (1) operation of Judicial Council Policy 506.1, Statewide Payable Offense Policy (petty misdemeanor offenses); (2) placement on the Statewide Payables Lists; or (3) placement on a county payables list.  

Q: What's the authority for the Statewide Payables List?

A:  The Statewide Payables List is authorized by statute and court rule.  Minn. Stat. § 609.101, subd. 4, authorizes the Judicial Council to establish a "uniform fine schedule" in consultation with affected state and local agencies. The uniform fine schedule is referred to in the Judicial Branch as the Statewide Payables List.  The statute requires that the schedule be promulgated not later than September 1 of each year and that it become effective on January 1 of the next year unless the legislature, by law, provides otherwise.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.03, subd. 2(1), also authorizes the adoption of a uniform fine schedule.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.03, subd. 2(2), permits the district court to establish locally payable offenses as well, but requires that the fine for any offenses similar to that on the statewide list must be the same.

Q:  How is the Statewide Payables List established?  Who determines which offenses are payable?

A:  Minn. Stat. § 609.101, subd. 4, authorizes the Judicial Council to establish the Statewide Payables List.  The Council begins review of the lists annually at the close of each regular legislative session.  The Council seeks input from interested parties, considers all requests for revisions, publishes the proposed lists for public comment, and then approves and publishes the revisions.  The full procedure is documented in Judicial Council Policy 506.1, Statewide Payable Offense Policy.   

Q: What happens when someone pays the fine?

A: Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.03, subd. 3, provides that payment constitutes a plea of guilty to the charge and waiver of the rights to a court or jury trial, counsel, the presumption of innocence, confrontation, and to remain silent.

Q: If an offense is on the Statewide Payables Lists, is it automatically a petty misdemeanor?

A: No.  The Statewide Payables Lists contains both petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor offenses.  Placement of a misdemeanor on the Statewide Payables Lists does not change the offense level from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor.  The offense level is established by the Legislature. See Minn. Stat. § 609.095 ("The legislature has the exclusive authority to define crimes and offenses").  If the fine amount listed on the Statewide Payables List for the misdemeanor offense is $300 or lower and the defendant pays the fine the level of sentence will be deemed a petty misdemeanor pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.02, which states: A conviction is deemed a petty misdemeanor if the sentence imposed is within petty misdemeanor limits.

Q: What rights does a defendant have who has been cited with a payable offense?

A: The defendant has the full panoply of rights the defendant would have had if the cited offense had not been payable: (1) the right to a trial to the court or jury; (2) the right to be represented by counsel; (3) the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses; and (5) the right to remain silent or to testify for the defense.  Payment of the fine constitutes waiver of these rights.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.03, subd. 3.  But if the defendant appears in court, the defendant is entitled to the full range of procedures afforded by the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Q: If the defendant chooses to appear on a payable offense, is the court limited to imposing the payable fine amount?

A: No.  If a defendant chooses to appear in court rather than pay the fine amount, the case proceeds as any other misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor case would proceed.  The court can impose any sanction lawfully available for misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor violations.