Court Ordered Debt Collection

I Received a Final Notification

Final Notification

If your letter looks similar to the image above, you need to contact the clerk to set up a payment plan or make payment in full before 14 days from the date on the bottom of the letter. If not, your account will be sent to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) for further collections action. Under South Dakota Law, the ORC adds a cost recovery fee of 20% to your total balance owed. This fee cannot be waived or reversed. The ORC may also block your ability to renew or obtain a motor vehicle, boat, or motorcycle registration, your driver’s license, or hunting, fishing, state park, and camping licenses. They may also collect lottery winnings.

If you have a letter from the ORC, you can call them for more information at (888) 980-1194. The Unified Judicial System can no longer accept payments on your case if your account has been transferred to the ORC.

Types of Court Debt and Case

Your court-ordered debt might consist of costs, fines, fees and/or restitution. These amounts were assessed in the judgment of conviction or final order that was entered by the judge at the conclusion of your criminal case.

Costs

Costs assessed are the costs associated with the handling of your case. Costs are typically paid to funds including the Law Enforcement Officer Training Fund, UJS Court Automation Fund, Court Appointed Attorney Fund, Victim’s Compensation Fund, Court Appointed Special Advocates Fund, 911 Telecommunicator Training Fund, and the Abused and Neglected Child Defense Fund as authorized by statute.

Fines

Fines are an amount of money the court orders you to pay as a penalty for your crime. Fines are typically paid to the school district in the county where the violation occurred as authorized by statute.

Fees

Fees are any other court fees associated with your case. These may include things like the cost of your court appointed attorney or testing fees assessed.

Restitution

Restitution is when the court, as part of your criminal sentence, orders you to pay a victim for losses suffered as the result of your crime. The UJS collects the money and sends it to the victim.

Collections

The Unified Judicial System (UJS) makes the first attempt to collect your court ordered debt. If the UJS is unsuccessful, your account may be sent to collections. Any funds received by the UJS will be applied to your debt. If you owe restitution, the UJS will also make payment to the victims.

The UJS is authorized under South Dakota law to utilize the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) to collect any costs, fines, fees, or restitution, constituting final debt, ordered in any adult criminal proceeding. Your account may be sent to the ORC if the UJS is unable to collect your court ordered debt. Any funds received by the ORC will be sent to the UJS and applied to your case. The ORC will also assess you a 20% cost recovery fee on top of the balance you owe to the UJS.

Filing Bankruptcy

Restitution, fines, costs and/or fees assessed as part of a criminal sentence are not dischargeable under bankruptcy proceedings and also not subject to the automatic stay pursuant to 11 USC 523(a)(7) and 362(b)(1). In other words, you still owe these amounts and need to pay them or make arrangements to do so.

If your account has not been referred to the Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) for nonpayment, the Unified Judicial System (UJS) will continue to collect on your account. If you have questions regarding the amount owed or to make payment arrangements, please contact the county Clerk of Court.

Accounts referred to the ORC for collections are assessed a cost recovery fee of 20% pursuant to statute. The ORC may also take action to block your ability to renew, obtain, or maintain a South Dakota driver license, hunting or fishing license, state park permit, camping permit, and/or motor vehicle, motorcycle, or boat registration. If you have questions regarding an account which has been transferred to the ORC for collections, please contact their toll-free customer service number at (888) 980-1194.

Applicable Collections Law
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to an order entered by a judge which requires you to pay fines, court costs, fees and/or restitution. This law only covers consumer debt for things like credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other household debt. Read more at https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text

Statute of Limitations

There is no statute of limitations on court ordered debt including things like criminal fines, penalties and restitution. Paying these is typically part of a criminal sentence and is not subject to a statute of limitations.

Payment Questions

Payment Options

Your payment can be mailed to the address listed at the top of your Final Notification from the Unified Judicial System. You can also pay by credit or debit card online at https://ujsportal.sd.gov/Portal. If you need to set up a payment plan, you must contact the clerk at the number provided in your Final Notification. If you need to find the information for the clerk of court, you can also visit https://ujs.sd.gov/Circuit_Court/Default.aspx

Case Management

The Unified Judicial System (UJS) will collect your debt unless it has been transferred to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC). If your account has already been transferred to the ORC, the UJS is unable to collect payment and you will need to contact the ORC at (888) 980-1194.

I Never Received a Letter from the UJS Before My Account Was Transferred

The Unified Judicial System (UJS) mails the notice of court-ordered debt to your last known address. If it is returned with a forwarding address, the final notification will be sent to the new address. However, it is your job to keep the UJS notified of your current address and contact information.

What if I can't pay

If you cannot pay your debt in full, you need to contact the clerk of court to set up a payment plan on your account. As long as you make the full payment amount required for your monthly payments on time each month, your account will not be sent to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC). If your account is transferred to the ORC, you will need to contact them to set up payment arrangements at (888) 980-1194.

What if I don't pay

Your court-ordered debt is part of your criminal sentence and must be paid. If you do not pay, your account will be sent to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) for further collections action. Under South Dakota Law, the ORC adds a cost recovery fee of 20% to your total balance owed. They may also block your ability to renew or obtain a motor vehicle, boat, or motorcycle registration, your driver’s license, or hunting, fishing, state park, and camping licenses until you have paid your debt or set up a payment plan. The ORC may also seize any money won through South Dakota Lottery and apply it toward the debt you owe.

Clerk of Court

Your payment questions should be directed to the county clerk. https://ujs.sd.gov/Circuit_Court/Default.aspx

Obligation Recovery Center

The Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) can be reached at (888) 980-1194. Payments for accounts which have been transferred to the ORC can be made at https://sdboa-iia.hostams.com/PRDIIA1X1/IPA/prIPALogin.jsp or by mail to Obligation Recovery Center at Post Office Box 85560 in Sioux Falls, SD 57118-5560. For more information, visit https://boa.sd.gov/obligation-recovery/default.aspx

Licensing/Registration Agencies

Debt Disputes

Before ORC Transfer

If your account has not yet been transferred to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) and you have questions about your debt, you can contact the Clerk of Court for more information. The clerk will explain what debt you have, where it came from, what has been paid, and what is still owed. The clerk can also help you set up payment arrangements. You need to request this information and take action before your account is transferred to the ORC or you will be assessed a cost recovery fee of 20% and will be subject to additional collections action. After your debt is transferred to the ORC, the clerk can no longer assist you or accept payments on your case.

After ORC Transfer

If your account has been transferred to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) for failure to pay the Unified Judicial System, you need to contact the ORC for more information about your debt. They will provide you with information about what debt you have and what you currently owe. If you want to dispute your debt after it has been transferred to the ORC, you will need to appear at a due process hearing in front of the Office of Hearing Examiners. You can find more information about this in the section titled “Due Process Hearings” below.

You can request a due process hearing if you disagree with the transfer of your debt to the ORC which resulted in being unable to renew, obtain, or maintain a license or permit. A person affected by any motor vehicle registration, license, or permit enforcement action may request a due process hearing through the ORC regarding the debt that has been transferred for collection. If you prevail at a due process hearing, your debt will not be erased. Instead, your account will be pulled back to the Unified Judicial System from the ORC for further collections and the 20% cost recovery fee will be removed from the balance of the debt.

A due process hearing is not to argue that you cannot pay your debt or complain about a registration or licensing block. Your debt cannot be forgiven or erased as it is a part of a criminal sentence. You must pay your debt in full or establish a payment plan to resolve the debt.

Reasons that may warrant a due process hearing are that you already paid the debt or the debt isn’t yours. You will need to prove your claim at the time of the hearing in order to prevail. The hearing determines whether due process was followed when informing you of your debt (Final Notification letter) and/or whether you have a debt that has been referred. The hearing examiner will not consider whether the amount of your debt is correct or re-evaluate the initial determination that you were ordered to pay money. In other words, the hearing is about whether proper procedures were utilized when attempting to collect your court ordered debt.

To request a due process hearing you need to contact the Obligation Recovery Center at (888) 980-1194. For more information about Due Process Hearings, see below.

Due Process Hearings

Who Conducts the Hearing

The hearing is conducted by the Office of Hearing Examiners (OHE). The OHE conducts administrative hearings for citizens who have the right to a hearing before a state agency. The OHE guide for hearings can be found at https://boa.sd.gov/ohe/docs/OHE-adminhearings-guide.pdf and you can view their website for general information https://boa.sd.gov/ohe/default.aspx on how hearings are conducted, how you will be notified about the hearing, how to best present your case, and what happens after the hearing.

After ORC Transfer

If your account has been transferred to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) for failure to pay the Unified Judicial System, you need to contact the ORC for more information about your debt. They will provide you with information about what debt you have and what you currently owe. If you want to dispute your debt after it has been transferred to the ORC, you will need to appear at a due process hearing in front of the Office of Hearing Examiners. You can find more information about this in the section titled “Due Process Hearings” below.

You can request a due process hearing if you disagree with the transfer of your debt to the ORC which resulted in being unable to renew, obtain, or maintain a license or permit. A person affected by any motor vehicle registration, license, or permit enforcement action may request a due process hearing through the ORC regarding the debt that has been transferred for collection. If you prevail at a due process hearing, your debt will not be erased. Instead, your account will be pulled back to the Unified Judicial System from the ORC for further collections and the 20% cost recovery fee will be removed from the balance of the debt.

A due process hearing is not to argue that you cannot pay your debt or complain about a registration or licensing block. Your debt cannot be forgiven or erased as it is a part of a criminal sentence. You must pay your debt in full or establish a payment plan to resolve the debt.

Reasons that may warrant a due process hearing are that you already paid the debt or the debt isn’t yours. You will need to prove your claim at the time of the hearing in order to prevail. The hearing determines whether due process was followed when informing you of your debt (Final Notification letter) and/or whether you have a debt that has been referred. The hearing examiner will not consider whether the amount of your debt is correct or re-evaluate the initial determination that you were ordered to pay money. In other words, the hearing is about whether proper procedures were utilized when attempting to collect your court ordered debt.

To request a due process hearing you need to contact the Obligation Recovery Center at (888) 980-1194. For more information about Due Process Hearings, see below.

When is the Hearing

The Unified Judicial System will schedule the hearing and send notice to the address you listed on your hearing request form at least seven days before the hearing. Hearings are telephonic so you will be provided a number and access code to call into on the day of the hearing. If you are late or do not call in, your case may be dismissed and you will lose the opportunity to present your case to the hearing examiner.

Witnesses and Exhibits

After you receive notice of the hearing, you will receive a packet containing a list of exhibits and witnesses that the Unified Judicial System (UJS) intends to present at the hearing. The exhibits are evidence which could include documents, photographs, or the testimony of witnesses. You should have these available to reference at the hearing. If you intend to submit exhibits or witnesses, you must serve these on the Office of Hearing Examiners and the UJS at least seven days before the date of the hearing.

Proving Your Case

Since you are requesting the hearing, you have the burden of proving your case. The Unified Judicial System does not have to prove your case, but will provide evidence showing where the debt originated, what payments have been made, what is still owed, and how the debt was transferred to the Obligation Recovery Center. You will need to provide evidence or witnesses in addition to providing testimony relating to your due process claim.

What Happens at the Hearing

On the day and time of the hearing, you will call in to the number provided and type in the access code when prompted. Remember to take notice of the day and correct time zone because if you are late or do not call in, your case may be dismissed and you will lose the opportunity to present your case to the hearing examiner. After calling in, you will wait until the hearing examiner comes on the line and gives further instruction. The hearing examiner will make sure everyone is on the call and explain the hearing process. The Unified Judicial System (UJS) will go first and present their witnesses and exhibits. The hearing examiner will ask if you have any questions for the witness. This is not a time to give your testimony, but ask questions relating to the testimony given by the UJS witnesses. After the UJS has finished presenting their case, the hearing examiner will swear you in and ask for your testimony. This will be the time to explain why you have requested the hearing. The hearing examiner and UJS may ask you questions. Once both sides have presented their cases, each side will give a closing statement. This is a brief summary of what was presented during the hearing and what they are asking the hearing examiner to decide. Once both parties have finished, the hearing examiner will explain the next steps and the hearing will conclude.

Who Will Be at the Hearing

The hearing will be conducted telephonically by the hearing examiner. The Unified Judicial System (UJS) will be represented by a lawyer. Most of the witnesses will be UJS employees. You will also need to be present telephonically, along with any witnesses you are calling to prove your case. A representative from the Obligation Recovery Center may also be present on the line.

What Happens After the Hearing

After the hearing, the hearing examiner will submit a proposed decision. It will explain the outcome of the case. You will also receive a final decision from the Unified Judicial System shortly after with information on what to do next.

I'm Owed Money

UJS Collection

The Unified Judicial System (UJS) attempts to collect court ordered debts. Any money received will be disbursed for restitution amounts first, and then any court costs, fines or fees. If the UJS is unsuccessful in their attempt to collect money, the case is transferred to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center (ORC) for further attempts to collect the court ordered debt. The ORC may take action to block a debtor’s ability to renew, obtain, or maintain a South Dakota driver license; hunting or fishing license; state park permit; camping permit; and/or motor vehicle, motorcycle, or boat registration. Again, any money received by the ORC is sent back to the UJS so it can be disbursed for restitution and court costs, fines and fees. You do not need to do anything yourself for the UJS to attempt to collect on your behalf.

Civil Judgment/Enforcement of Restitution Order

In an opinion filed on March 31, 2010 (UBC v. Ochs), the Supreme Court ruled that restitution orders can no longer be converted to civil money judgments. However, if a defendant fails to satisfy the restitution as ordered by the court, SDCL 23A-28-1 allows for an order of restitution to be enforced by the state or a victim named in the order in the same manner as a judgment in a civil action.

In order to initiate an enforcement of an order of restitution, each victim, individually, must complete and file an Application to Enforce Restitution Order form (UJS 126) with the clerk of court where the case was prosecuted. The victim will also need to have a copy of the current Order Approving Plan of Restitution, Judgment of Conviction, or Order Suspending Imposition of Sentence which spells out the restitution plan as ordered by the Court.

Victims can seek executions on the order after the application is filed. There may be fees associated with transcripts and execution. All money received must be first sent to the clerk to be receipted and disbursed. You can get the UJS Form 126 from the clerk to file an enforcement of a restitution order, but if you have specific questions about this process, you will need to contact an attorney. The clerk of court cannot give you legal advice.

Filing an application to enforce a restitution order will not affect the collections action taken by the Unified Judicial System (UJS). The UJS will still attempt to collect the debt and if unsuccessful, the account will still be sent to the South Dakota Obligation Recovery Center for further collections action. The application to enforce restitution is an optional process you may undertake if you desire.

Further Questions

If you have questions regarding this information, please contact the county clerk of court. If you have questions regarding an account which has been transferred to the ORC for collections action, please contact their toll-free customer service number at (888) 980-1194. The UJS and clerks’ offices cannot provide legal advice or assist you in completing a civil judgment.