I'm suppose to pay a certain amount a month and I've been paying only what I can over a course of almost 5yrs now. 3 months before I'm due to complete my probation, I'm hit with a bombshell by my P.O stating that he's going to violate me on my next visit if I can't get a court date scheduled from the courts explaining my reasons for not paying the full amount each month. In 5yrs I've never violated, graduated with my B.A, passed every drug test and been barely keeping my head above water with no additional help. Could this be possible? To have been in good standings with the law and trying to better myself only to be violated for not paying the full amount? I can see if I haven't paid anything but this is not the case. I've written the courts a letter asking for a court date. So now what?
The probation officer is going to put in a position where unless the terms of your probation are changed to make your debt into a civil lien, you will have violated the terms of your probation. It will be up to the State to prove you intentionally violated those terms, but you will need to prove your income, reasonable expenses and inability to pay the debt. It would be in your best interest to consult with an attorney and attempt to modify the terms of your probation before you are violated.
You need to think about hiring a Lawyer ASAP. What you could and could not afford to pay will be fact specific to your case. You don't give any amounts owed or paid in you post but, obviously if you only paid $50-100 in 5 years, you could be in trouble. If you have any way to beg or borrow to get the money paid, now is the time to do so.
At a court date you set, the only matter the court typically will hear will be whether they should issue a warrant or a notice to appear when the VOP report and affidavit is filed. You're going to be VOP'd because you failed to pay your monetaries. If the State can show you had the ability to pay, you may be in trouble. You need to think about hiring a local attorney for this.
I am not suggesting that you take any actions. I'm asking about the rift between your representations that "barely keeping my head above water".
The restitution is not only a schedule to be paid to the court, the total amount is a general IRS tax liability, meaning that you won't get out of it by not paying and that it will hang over you forever.
However, instead of a he-said she-said battle, what do you suppose would happen if you showed up with an excel spread sheet showing your complete income and expenses. You could even use a completed bankruptcy application (13 or less preferably 7) to help you organize the data. What if you sat down and did the chapter 7 means test and passed it significantly?
Absent confidentiality considerations (talk to your Florida Criminal Specialist Attorney-- FL has a good program); waving (politely) a stack of papers and asking the question "am I being asked to do a 5 year bankruptcy?"
Beware, however, any lies you tell will cause you MORE criminal problems.
Making a showing on what you are spending for housing, car and entertainment, and bumping it against the IRS standards will give you an idea on how really "barely keeping my head above water" you are. Put another way, if your expenses are high, especially if they are higher than the IRS standard, your budget might be suspect. Conversely, if your expenses were far below IRS standard, you will be better able to justify your statement that you are "barely keeping my head above water".
Follow the advice of your Florida Criminal Specialist Attorney, and have their representation. They will help you with your presentation. However, if you show up with no documentation at all, someone might think you were blowing it off.
Follow the advice and preparation of your local Florida Criminal Specialist Attorney.
You time in court will be the opportunity to show how you spent your money. If you PO does not have all of the facts about your finances, such as ALL of your expenses, he or she might believe that you could have paid more. Take the time to collect all the receipts and bills you have and prepare to defend your financial position. The PO may be trying to extend your probation by showing a delinquent payment regime. Show the truth. Open up your finances and show how meager you indeed have been living. If you provide your finances tot the court, do so through the em/ecf sealed response selection. This allows only the court, not the general public, to see what you files. Good Luck!
I agree with my fellow counsel, and this explanation would have helped you months if not years ago, but here is how restitutuion and probation work. When the sentence or plea is reached and you are put on Probation, one of the tasks of the Probation Office (and hence your PO) is to insure that the Court ordered restitution, court costs, fines and cost of supervision all get paid during probation. So your PO will take all of those amounts and, in order to make certain he has time to file a Violation if you do not comply, figure out a monthly payment schedule which pays off all of your obligations a month or two before the end of your Probation. That way, if you follow the payment schedule you will be done early enough your PO can start the termination paperwork so that you are down on the last day of Probation. On the other hand, if you are not paid up, he has time to file a technical violation based upon your failure to pay.
That is why he was telling you to file a motion. You either needed to file several months back when you saw you would not be paid to request that the unpaid restitution or fines, or whatever is left, be reduced to what is known as a "civil lien" to be paid after probation. If you do not file and ask for this relief, the PO has to file a Violation of Probation. The result may be the same, Court's do not like finding Defendants guilty of intentional violations of probation where you can show the Court you truly have not had the financial ability to pay restitutuion, and will often agree to reducing the amount to a civil lien or extending probation, depending on the circumstances.
Since you have waited and the PO must now file the Violation, unless you can borrow the money from family or friends to pay off the unpaid amount, you will have to accept that your PO must do his job and file a VOP with the Court, because only the Court can decide to extend your probation or roll the unpaid amount to a civil lien or some other resolution.
If you cannot afford an attorney, I would reccomend you go to the Public Defender's office and start the paperwork to retain the service of the Public Defender, you really could use some legal assistance at this point in time.
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