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Criminal Fines and Restitution: Everything You Need to Know

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Not all criminal offenses result in incarceration. In some instances, the courts believe that justice is best served whenever the defendant is ordered to pay a monetary fine. In other cases, fines may be assessed in addition to jail time, probation or community service.

What are Criminal Fines?

Criminal fines are sums of money paid to the court system as punishment for committing certain acts. The amount of money owed can depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • Nature of the offense
  • State laws
  • An individual’s past criminal history
  • Financial resources of the convicted person

How Do Fines Work?

Fines are imposed whenever a sentence is handed down, and they are part of a judge’s official sentencing order. When ordering fines, the judge will mandate that a certain amount of money be paid by a particular date. In cases where fines are especially hefty, the judge may order installments be made at regular intervals instead. Defendants do not always have to pay their fines in cash, as credit or debit cards are typically accepted as well.

When an Individual Cannot Pay

According to Texas law, those who do not pay their court fines are subject to harsh penalties, which can include additional time in confinement or stiffer monetary penalties. This means that if a fine was assessed in lieu of jail time, an individual could be incarcerated if he or she fails to pay fines in a timely manner.

Criminal fines can also be used to place a lien against one’s real or personal property. That lien would need to be satisfied before that property could be sold. The government could also seize and sell an individual’s property in order to satisfy a debt. They could also garnish one’s wages or tax returns.

What are Fines Used For?

Money collected by way of criminal fines is usually used to compensate the victim in some way. Some examples are providing counseling or medical care. Fines should not be confused with restitution, which may be ordered in addition to fines. Restitution involves the accused paying the victim directly for any damage he or she has caused. An example would be whenever an individual destroys property and is ordered to foot the cost of repairing or replacing it.

To learn more about criminal fines and your options for paying them, pick up the phone and speak to Brett Podolsky today at 713-227-0087.

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