Understanding Court-Ordered Fines
For many California crimes, you can face steep fines as a component of your sentencing. Your fines may be the least of your worries, especially if you are also facing a jail sentence, but they are a part of your sentence that must be fulfilled. Some people don't take these fines seriously, but if a judge orders them, they are a requirement that must be fulfilled.
What is unfortunate is California counties impose significant penalty assessments to court-ordered fines. In some cases, these can double or triple the amount you will have to pay. Even for simple traffic citations, you could face hundreds of dollars in penalty assessments. As a consequence, many defendants find themselves struggling to pay their court-ordered fines by the deadline after a conviction. Failing to do so, however, can result in serious consequences.
Failure to pay a court-ordered fine as part of a conviction is a crime. You can be charged with a misdemeanor and face an additional sentence just for not paying. A warrant can be issued for your arrest. You can even be charged additional fees for failing to pay, compounding the problem. Your fine can even be sent to collections, and in some cases, a hold will be placed on your driver's license.
In light of all these consequences, it is always best just to pay your fine on time, but many people simply aren't able to do this. Certain criminal convictions can result in exorbitant fines of several thousand dollars, and the additional costs of a criminal conviction, such as probation fees, special insurance, or certain classes can make paying those fines even more difficult. If you are facing steep fines, you should call an attorney to discuss your options.
It's important to understand your responsibilities when it comes to fines. An attorney can explain what will happen if you fail to pay your fines and connect you with resources if you need more time to pay. In some cases, you may be able to get an installment plan for your fines, which allows you to make payments on your fine amount. This may not be available in the county of your conviction, so check with your court to see if you have any options for a payment plan. If you cannot pay your fine at all, you may be able get it reduced if you can prove in court that you are unable to pay.
An attorney can also help clear a bench warrant if one has been issued. If you know a warrant has been issued because of failure to pay your fine, call an attorney immediately and steer clear of law enforcement until the warrant is cleared. An attorney may be able to get your warrant cleared. At the very least, an attorney can advise you of your rights and recommend a plan of action if you have a warrant and cannot pay your fines.
Your court-ordered fines must be paid for you to fulfill all the requirements of your sentencing. Without satisfying these fines, you are ineligible for expunging any convictions and could remain on probation. Also, you could face arrest, additional criminal charges, and more fines and fees.
Neglecting your fine until the last minute is a bad idea. If you are facing a large fine for a criminal conviction, consult with an attorney about your options. Take action early to ensure you can make arrangements to satisfy the requirements of your sentencing without undue hardship and without jeopardizing your eligibility to clean your record. An attorney can advise you of your rights and explain your options to you. And, if you are facing charges, an attorney may be able to reduce your charge, potentially saving you from a court-ordered fine.
If you have questions about court-ordered fines, call experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can advise you of your rights and help you find a way to satisfy the requirements of your sentencing. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.