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I can't pay my court fees/fines. What will happen to me?

Paducah, KY |

I received around $2500 in court fees and fines, and a jail sentence of 21 days in August of last year. My fees/fines are due 2/11/2013. Since my release from jail I've lost my job, and have been looking ever since. I recently moved in with some friends close to town to increase the likely hood of finding a job, although it is still very hard due to my lack of a drivers license. I've had a couple of interviews, but I've failed the background check every time. I'm expecting a little over $1000 in tax refunds and plan to use all of it to make a payment on my fines. Considering this, what can I expect when I go to court on the 11th of next month? Is there any way I can avoid jail time?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. In my experience, courts appreciate being told of difficulties early. First opportunity, schedule an appearance before 2/11. Take any documents that you have with you to support your claims about seeking employment and the loss of a job. Usually, judges are interested more in getting your money than putting you in jail.

    The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.


  2. You may want to fill out a financial affidavit to support your claim of economic distress. I agree with Attorney Hudson, the courts would rather get money from you than spend the State's money to incarcerate you.


  3. Gather as much money as you can, go to the clerk's office and make a substantial payment with the clerk. Ask if you can advance the case to explain your financial problems to the judge and ask for more time and/or to perform volunteer work to lessen the obligation.

    I am trying to give you a general answer to your question. We do not have an attorney-client relationship by this response on the avvo website. I have not been retained to represent you. I am licensed to practice law in Kentucky and in federal court in this state and the Southern District of Indiana. You need to seek legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your area..


  4. pay what you can. It is far better to pay a small amount more frequently than to hold out to save enough for the big pay off. Something always happens that will use up the fine money. I am talking multiple payments in the 5, 10 , 20 dollar range. When your review hearing comes up the payment record will show a regular pattern of a man with no resources doing what he can to make things right. A little good faith goes a very long way in criminal court. If the record shows you doing your best I bet the judge will work with you. At least they will in my neck of the woods in Ohio.


  5. Mr. Mascagni is correct. Most Judges do not want to put you in jail over fines and they don't want to do collections work from the bench. Make a good faith effort to pay what you can and ask the Judge for more time. Showing a good faith effort fequently goes a long way with judges.

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