In 2016, 95% of warrants Texas courts issued arose from unpaid court fines. While being in debt is not a crime in and of itself, failure to pay court fines can effectively land you in jail. If you are facing court fines, fees and penalties, being able to pay is a top concern. But if you can’t pay, what happens?
Facing the Penalties
When the court fines you for a traffic citation or a low-level offense, paying that fine is a penalty for your conviction. Like community service or jail time, you must pay those fines to satisfy the requirements of your sentence. If you don’t fulfill that requirement, you could potentially face jail time. You might be able to make payment arrangements, but you could incur additional fines if you default on your payment and don’t contact the court. You could also face arrest and even lose your license, which could affect your ability to make a living. In light of these facts, it’s easy to see how court-issued fines can effectively perpetuate the cycle of crime for defendants who lack financial resources.
Driven by recently passed legislation, Texas courts are making changes to give low-income defendants the break they need. To lessen the disproportionate burden court fines place on low-income Texans, judges must now offer low-income defendants community service in lieu of fines. Judges are also granted the power to reduce or waive fines if they would place an undue burden on the defendant.
Texas courts extend this option only to defendants convicted of low-level crimes. Defendants who do not qualify as low-income or those fined for more serious offenses (which typically carry more serious fines) could face arrest for failure to pay.
If you have unpaid court fines, even just a traffic ticket you forgot about, we can’t stress the importance of speaking with a Dallas traffic ticket and criminal defense attorney enough. Before you pay those fines, talk to an attorney about your options. By paying a traffic ticket, you are essentially pleading guilty, which results in a conviction. Even if you pay your fine, the Texas Department of Public Safety will add points to your driving record, and you could face surcharges and increased insurance rates. You could even lose your job if you are a CDL holder. If you have an unpaid court fine for a low-level offense, you could have a warrant out of your arrest. An attorney can play a crucial role here in getting you out of hot water without having the bear the burden of excessive court fines.
If you are facing court fines in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action to clear your name and remove any warrants. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.