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About restitution payoff.

Thomasville, GA |

I did something a retired Attorney told me I should do. I wrote the Judge who
sentenced me a letter. I said " I respectfully ask that you review my case." And gave him the case #, etc. He kindly responded with a letter about 2 weeks later. The thing I was trying to explain to the Judge was regarding the restitution amount I still owe, even after I have already paid $31,000 on it. The letter from my Judge said that he was willing to try to help me, but after talking tto my Prob. Off. that my P.O. pointed out that the amount assessed was not for any interest. I was shocked to read that because of the fact that I saw in black & white on paper before my eyes what the original amount was. It was then decided 5 month later that they would add a huge amount of money to it for the sole purpose of it having to take 120 months to pay back, with interest already added in before payments were figured. My Prob. Off. only saw the amount that was already a total amt. of amount owed plus interest for the amt. of time it would take to pay back. I am writing this down to see if anyone thinks that this is unfair to me. If I am willing to pay off my balance due to the fact that I struggle every month to make this large payment. It seems like the Judicial System would be willing to work with me instead of putting me under arrest for violation of prob. That is what he has threatened me with a hundred times. I really don't see how it would be fair to me to threaten me with lock up if I come in and I am $50.00 short and promise to bring balance 3 days later. What that means is that I am not even 1 month behind or even 1/2 month behind. I don't understand how his mind works. I know he probably has alot of deadbeat people he has to spend all his time & energy chasing. It is almost like my rights are being violated when you ask them for help and they wont give it to you. The Judge wrote in closing his letter to me the following: Talk again with your P.O. and your Attorney and if you come up with any proposals, I wll consider them. It sounds to me like he is willing to give me a chance to pay it off. But how do you do it when you have a Prob. Officer who is pulling the opposite direction from you? I don't think it should be up to a Prob. Off. if you can work something out and you have complied with everything you are required to do. When a person gets in trouble it seems to me like they don't care if you have to become homeless or lose your car as long as you make your payments on time. Let me know what you think about this. I know this has happened to other people before. They are not even fair when determining the amount you have to pay each month.

Attorney Answers 1


  1. Here is a case from the United States Supreme Court that might be of some help:

    In Bearden v. Georgia, 461 U.S. 660 (1983), the Court addressed the due process and equal protection concerns of imprisoning an individual for nonpayment of a fine or restitution. The Court recognized that differential treatment of indigent defendants in revoking probation may violate the equal protection clause and that the fundamental unfairness of revoking probation based on an indigent's failure to pay a fine raises due process concerns. Thus, “if the State determines a fine or restitution to be the appropriate and adequate penalty for the crime, it may not thereafter imprison a person solely because he lacked the resources to pay it.” Conversely, however, nothing precludes the state from imprisoning a defendant who willfully refuses to pay a fine or restitution. The critical factor under Bearden is the reason for nonpayment. If the probationer is without fault, revocation is inappropriate.

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