Many people don’t know it, but our justice system comes with some invisible punishments that can have a huge impact on your life if you get tangled up in them.
These invisible punishments take the form of a myriad of court fees and fines, and a series of severe punishments you could face if you can’t pay them. To protect yourself, here’s what you need to know.
Fees add up fast.
Depending on where you live, courts can charge for all sorts of things. Consider this list from TheAppeal.org.
“Courts impose astronomical fees on those charged with crimes, fees known as legal financial obligations. These include arrest fees, bench warrant fees, lawyer fees, crime lab fees, jury fees, and victim assessments. There are even fees for sleeping in jail.”
Such a list can become burdensome for anyone, but are especially hard on the poor.
You can be jailed for failure to pay fines and fees, even for minor offenses.
Some minor offenses don’t incur any jail time, but come with a hefty fine nonetheless. For example, if you receive a desk appearance ticket (DAT) for a small amount of marijuana you can be fined $100 for the first offense and $200 for a second offense.
If you don’t or can’t pay that money for whatever reason, you can end up in jail.
Some crimes come with jail time and fines. For example, drug possession in the fifth degree can mean up to 7 years in jail and up to $5000 in fines. Get out of jail, can’t pay $5K? You might be going right back to jail.
Other parties might pursue you for money.
One particularly egregious practice comes from big retailers like Walmart, who will often pursue defendants for restitution in shoplifting cases even if you are acquitted. Often, they’ll do this before you’ve even had your day in court.
Getting rid of these charges can be very difficult if you don’t have a private lawyer on your side who will help you communicate with these very wealthy, very powerful entities.
The cost of not having a private lawyer can outstrip the cost of having one.
Having a private lawyer on your side can be incredibly helpful when it comes to reducing your risks of receiving hefty fines and fees. For example, we can ask the judge to waive any fees that aren’t mandated by law, or to convert them into community service.
Defending your case is a bigger deal than it seems too. The average inmate comes out of prison owing $13,607 in fines and fees they will never be able to pay. Failure to pay any charge could result in being arrested all over again. The average defendant will not need to pay nearly as much to hire one of our lawyers, and we work with you to help make our services manageable for you.
We certainly won’t send you to jail if you’re having a little bit of trouble paying us. And you can’t put a price tag on taking your best shot at staying out of jail.
Are you or a loved one in trouble with the law? Get solid representation from a lawyer with the time and resources to give your case the attention it deserves. Call us today for your free case review.