In most states, when you are behind on your probation fees and court costs, they can put you in jail. Will they? That depends. Probably not for a while in most cases.
Judges are quick to point out that probation is a privilege. When you first met your probation officer, you went over a list of rules you were expected to obey. One of those rules was to pay a certain amount of money each month for supervision and a certain amount towards court costs.
While there are no guarantees, the typical probation officers will work with you on the money part if:
- You have obeyed all the other rules and done what was asked of you
- You haven’t picked up new charges and violations
- You are making a sincere effort either by working and supporting yourself or looking for work
- You pay what you can when you can
Partial Payments: If you have been reporting every month for months on end without paying a dollar, your probation officer is not going to be sympathetic. But, if you have been trying by paying half, or a third of what you should be paying each month, he or she will see that you are making the effort and that will reflect positively.
Extended Probation: Here is where it gets sticky. If you get to the end of your probation period and the fees are not paid, many counties require that you be violated. The purpose of this is to get you back in front of the judge so he or she can extend your probation until you get it paid off. It is called a technical violation and doesn’t typically result in any jail time.
Final thoughts: Do what you can to pay some or all of those fees each month. If you run short, at least you won’t owe the entire amount. Check with your probation officer to find out what the “drop-dead” pay date is to have everything taken care of to avoid a violation. Use income tax refunds, loans from friends and family, selling things online and taking a second job to get that paid. You really don’t want to stay on probation longer than you have to.
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