General Office Overhead

General office overhead expenses include office expenses that would normally be reflected in the fee charged to the client, and are not reimbursable under the Act. The statutory fee is intended to include compensation for these general office expenses.

Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys are expected to use their own office resources, including secretarial help, for work on CJA cases. Except in extraordinary circumstances, see the Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.70.30, whether work is performed by counsel or other personnel, the rent, telephone service, and secretarial expenses associated with a CJA representation are not reimbursable under the Act. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 230.66.10]

The applicable Form CJA 21 or Form CJA 31 should be used to request authorization and to submit claims for compensation and reimbursement of expenses for services provided by paralegals, legal assistants, and other non-secretarial support personnel. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.70.30] [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.70.50]

These items and services are non-reimbursable expenses:

Items and Services of a Personal Nature

The cost of items of a personal nature purchased for or on behalf of the person represented is not reimbursable under the CJA. Such items include purchasing new clothing or having clothing cleaned, getting a haircut, or furnishing cigarettes, candy or meals.

The cost of services of a personal nature and expenses incidental thereto which cannot be considered legal representation is not compensable under the CJA. Such services include assisting the defendant in the disposition of the defendant's personal property, arranging for the placement of minor children of the defendant, assisting the defendant in executing the conditions of probation, and providing legal assistance in matters unrelated to the litigation of the case, although incidental to the defendant's arrest. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 230.66.20]

Filing Fees

Attorneys are not required to pay a filing fee in a CJA case, as such payment and reimbursement is tantamount to the government billing itself to accomplish a transfer of appropriated funds into the General Fund of the Treasury. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 230.66.30]

Printing Briefs

The expense of printing briefs, regardless of the printing method utilized, is not reimbursable. (However, the cost of photocopying or similar copying service is reimbursable.) [Guide, Vol. 7, § 230.66.40]

Service of Process

Witness fees, travel costs, and expenses for service of subpoenas on fact witnesses are not payable out of the CJA appropriation but are governed by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17 and 28 U.S.C. § 1825. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 230.66.50]


Taxes paid on attorney compensation received under CJA, whether based on income, sales, or gross receipts, are not reimbursable expenses. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 230.66.60]