In theory, yes, that could happen. A person could come to the court and ask them to change the amounts, but that’s not that common because on the day of court when everything happened, the judgment of the court was to give a particular fine. So, usually the court might be in a position to modify it somewhat to give value for that but not just to change it outright, but in theory, it could happen.
What Are the Consequences of Not Making a Payment Plan on Time?
It’s just like at a bank, a little bit more lenient, but just like at a bank. If you just fail to pay and do nothing, you’ll get in trouble, but if you fail to pay but instead you come to the court and say to them that you need additional time, maybe you lost the job, maybe you’ve got some additional expenses that popped up, and these additional expenses could be you lost the job or your car broke down or you had a baby or a number of things, then the court many times will give additional time, and they’ll do that for a while, but eventually they’re going to run out of patience.
They may have other options if you can’t pay. We used to see this quite a bit. I don’t see it so much anymore, but the court would allow someone to do community service to work off their fines. So, if they had to pay $100 fine to the court and they couldn’t pay it, but instead they would do 25 or 20 or 15 hours of community service, then they could work off the fine.
You definitely have to ask the judge for permission to do that, but it happens and the court many times will give a little bit of levy if you have only paid a portion. I have some clients who have big fines that they have to pay, I mean big fines that they never could pay, and so it just sits there waiting as a debt. If they ever accumulate anything in their life, then the court could come after it, the state could come after it.
Could the Fines Increase for a Repeat Offender?
Yes. If a person gets an infraction, like speeding ticket or something like that and then they get it again, the fine would be the same. But if you’re getting stuff where you have to be represented by an attorney in court and you do it twice, it definitely starts to increase. I’ve had clients who get a driving on suspended ticket the first time and the first time, the court’s willing to reduce it down or even drop it if they have a good explanation, but on the second time, they’re not trying to reduce anything and they’re not trying to drop it down.
Instead, they’re talking about higher fines and jail even because they know that you’ve been warned, and sometimes I think it’s a little crazy how the courts treat certain things so much worse. It’s almost as if they don’t really think about what the person did, instead they think about what it means to the reputation of the court for someone to know that’s wrong and do it anyway. It’s sometimes a little mind-boggling for me to think about it like that.
How Is Payment of Fines Enforced?
Initially, a person gets a letter or a bill from the court saying that they have to pay something. If they don’t pay that, then their driver’s license would be suspended, their driving privilege would be suspended. If it goes on for a very long time, then a collection agency would get involved. So, that’s how it’s enforced. It’s much less enforcement than say a bill collector.
They expect you to do it and the state will get paid if you’re ever owed any money by the state. So, if you get a tax refund, they can take the money right out of that, so they will get paid one way or another.
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