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Do I need to pay this fine?

Clarksville, TN |

My charges were dismissed by a judge, I forget exactly how he put it but he told me that I would have to pay a fine despite having the charges dismissed. He gave me a piece of paper with a phone number for the Clerck so I could get my Find total. On the piece of paper it said that the court system is obligated legally to have a price total within two business days. I have called the clerks office now half a dozen times over three weeks and they still don't have a total for me. The fine i owe is from Tennessee I live in Minnesota. I believe the total amount is around $700. What can they do if I don't pay this fine? When I went to court the judge told me specifically that they cannot take me to jail if I do not pay the fine. Any info would be much appreciated.

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Attorney answers 5


I would contact a criminal defense attorney in TN to review the file and advise you. If you don't pay a court ordered fine, generally the court can issue a warrant for your arrest and notify the DMV to suspend your drivers license until paid. I don't know about this county in TN, but I would not ignore it.

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..


It sounds like the judge may have dismissed the case upon payment of court costs. In any event, because of a new law passed by the Tennessee legislature a couple of years ago, your driver license may automatically be suspended if you do not pay fine and court costs within one year from when the judge orders you to pay them. You should contact an attorney that regularly practices in the court where you had your case.

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If the case was "dismissed on costs", then the individual with the dismissed case should indeed pay the costs as soon as possible. As another attorney in this forum noted, Tennessee has passed a law permitting the DMV to suspend the driver's license of any person with unpaid costs after one year. Moreover, most state DMV's have comity, and honor one another's suspensions, so this could impact an out-of-state license. If costs remain unpaid, the State will also turn the account over to a collection agency much earlier than a year, leading to late fees, collection costs, damage to credit, and other bad consequences. Finally, if there was a "fine" (as opposed to costs), then there may have been a conviction or some other part of the disposition that the defendant did not understand. It would be advisable to discuss these matters with the attorney who handled the case, to retain another local attorney to review the file, or at least to get the records from the clerk's office to ensure understanding of what occurred and to pay everything. Finally, if the case was dismissed, the person should definitely file for expungement (or have an attorney do so) so as to remove the case from public records, but this can only be done after all costs are paid.

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Pay it. In addition to what others have said, you might also receive a "fail to appear" charge as well.

Plus, just pay it because that's what the judge told you to do!


The short answer is maybe. You should hire an attorney who practices in the county where you had to appear in court. That attorney would likely be able to help you quickly. There is a chance that they could get the fee waived and your record expunged.