Can You Really Go Back to Jail for Not Paying Court Fines and Fees While on Probation?
When placed on probation, you may also be ordered to pay court-ordered restitution, as well as court costs and associated fees. This is typically part of the conditions of your probation. Therefore, when you do not pay the court-ordered restitution, you could be in violation of the contract you have with the District Attorney’s Office. This can occur even when you make partial payments or fail to make the entire scheduled payment – as well as paying your fines and fees late on a continual basis.
If you are arrested for not paying your court fines, you can expect a contempt of court case in criminal court. You may be sued in civil court by the victim that you have not paid, and face a violation of probation hearing or motion to revoke probation.
The Use of Private Probation Companies
Cities around the country are slowly turning to the use of private probation companies to collect all unpaid court fines and fees. Unfortunately, these companies make it next to impossible for anyone to pay off their fines – and with their own associated fees tacked on to every payment you make, you may feel it is impossible to make a significant dent in your balance.
However, if you do not continue to pay the private collector, they will report you to your probation officer and your officer could invoke a hearing to determine if you should stay on probation. This means that, even if you are on probation for a minor offense, you could still face jail time simply because you could not pay the fines.
Revocation of Probation or a Probation Violation
The District Attorney could file a motion to revoke probation for non-payment of restitution. After the motion has been filed, the court will hold a hearing to decide if revocation is the best form of punishment. It is important to realize that these hearings are much less formal than your original criminal trial, and the burden of proof is much lighter for the prosecution. All they have to show is your fail to pay, late payments, or frequently inadequate payments for a judge to grant the revocation.
You will have fewer rights during a violation of probation hearing as well. You do not have the right to a jury trial; instead, a judge will determine your fate. Unlike a criminal trial where the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, all it takes is 50 percent certainty to get a judge to agree to revocation.
You do, however, have some rights present during your hearing, including:
- The right to have witnesses present and testify on your behalf.
- The right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.
- The right to submit information to the court regarding your situation and why you have not paid or cannot pay the full amount.
- The right to an attorney to represent you and your case.
Speak with a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney
Any probation violation is a serious matter and one that you should not take lightly. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away regarding your upcoming probation violation hearing at The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. by calling 904-356-8618 or by filling out an online contact form with your questions.