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Can you get a probation violation for not paying restitution, probation and court fees?

Santa Ana, CA |

A friend's probation officer never mentioned to him any type of fees that he had to pay, and when he asked about restitution, his officer told him he had none. He violated for another reason, went to jail, and when he got out his officer gave him a letter date about 7 months ago with restitution and and other fines listed on it that had been sent to the wrong address. I guess my question is, how long does he have to pay these fines and the restitution since he was missinformed? If he goes to collections to inquire about it will he be arrested if he does not have the money in hand?

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Attorney answers 4


How long your friend has to pay the fines and restitution depends on the date the court ordered them due. The fact that he was misinformed will not prevent a warrant from being issued for failure to pay, but may be a defense when he is brought before the Judge regarding a possible violation of probation. Your friend can contact the criminal clerk at the courthouse to see if there is an arrest warrant for failure to pay.

Your friend should know that he cannot go to jail for failure to pay if he truly does not have the money to pay AND if he informs the court about his inability to pay before the due date. The Judge will schedule an "ability to pay" hearing and if the Judge believes your friend is making good faith efforts to work and to pay, then he will be given continuances as necessary. The important think is to not let the due date pass before going to the Judge.

This answer is based on California law and procedure and does not create and attorney-client relationship.


Payment of restitution, fines and fees is a term of probation. This is all spelled out at sentencing. Failure to pay is a common ground for violation. You can look up the warrant status here.


Your friend can go down to the Collections department at the court and set up a payment plan. The court will definitely give him time to pay, they are only concerned with receiving their money regardless of how long it takes. He will have to pay an additional fee for the initiation of the plan but depending on his financial status, they will allow him to pay a reasonable amount that he can afford.

Lewis Khashan, Esq.

Wilson Kyncl & Khashan
(888) 384-4999


In order to become a violation, the non-payment must be willful -- he had the money but chose not to pay it. Don't blame probation for not telling him because the court will tell your friend he was there when the plea was entered in open court and the judge ordered the payment of money on the record. No points for not paying attention. Your friend needs to get on a payment plan to get the money paid. if it is not paid by the end of probation, there is often an extension of probation for as long as the maximum term allows with the carrot dangled that probation will usually then terminate upon full payment of all monies owed. The key is to keep the court informed and if he can't make a payment on time, go to court and tell the judge. All they can do is give him more time to pay as long as he does not just blow off the payment and do nothing.

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