Fines and Fees

Penalty and fine illustration as isolated golden and glossy gavel breaking dollar sign

When a defendant is sentenced on a Los Angeles felony or misdemeanor offense, a fine is almost always included as a condition of probation. In addition to the base fine amount, the defendant will be required to pay fees and penalty assessments. This may result in a total amount that is four or five times higher than the base fine. Failure to pay a court fine can lead to a probation violation and potentially jail time. People who have been charged with a criminal offense often want to know how much they may ultimately be required to pay.

In Los Angeles, defendants who are required to pay fines as part of their penalties will often have fees and penalty assessments added to the base amount. The rationale for these penalty assessments is based on the idea that criminal defendants should pay an “abusers fee” to help finance programming relating to deterring and decreasing criminal offenses. These penalty assessments are used to fund a wide variety of state-sponsored programs.

In many cases, part of the defendant’s fine will go to the State Victim Restitution Fund. This fund was established to pay for certain expenses incurred by the victims of violent crime, such as counseling or funeral expenses. The State Victim Restitution Fund contribution is not the same as victim restitution that the defendant may be ordered to pay. When there is a victim who suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct, that victim is legally entitled to restitution and the defendant would be ordered to pay restitution to the victim as a condition of probation. This restitution requirement is separate from any fine payment obligation. A willful failure to pay restitution can result in a probation violation and even jail time. If the defendant is unable to fully pay off restitution during the period of probation, the judge may extend the probation period or may convert the restitution amount to a civil judgement that would attach to the defendant until it is paid in full.

Because of the various fees and penalty assessments that are added to the base fine, the total amount owed can often be four to five times higher than the base fine. For example, most defendants who are convicted of a first-time DUI offense are ordered to pay a minimum fine of $390. When penalty assessments are added, the total amount is closer to $2000.

Courts are aware that defendants may have trouble paying this amount and will often give the defendant enough time to pay the fine in full. Although the court may not offer a payment plan per se, the defendant can come to the court before the due date and make periodic payments until the total amount owed has been paid in full. The sentencing judge may also allow the defendant to complete community labor or serve extra days in jail in lieu of paying a fine.

The defendant would be given a due date to complete the community labor or surrender for jail. Failure to pay fines or complete the labor/jail may be considered a violation of probation. Because the court will usually offer payment alternatives such as community labor or jail, the defendant would not be able to avoid paying court fines by claiming that he or she had an inability to pay. In many cases, the judge will ask the defendant at the time of sentencing if he or she wants to pay the fine or complete jail time or community labor instead. If the defendant chooses the fine and later determines that he or she cannot afford to pay, the court may modify the defendant’s sentence to permit community labor or jail time. In Los Angeles County, fines can be paid by credit card which is a popular option for those who cannot pay the fine amount in full by the date that payment is due.

If you have been charged criminally and want to know about the amount of fines that may be owed, it is critical that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the law and fights hard on behalf of his clients.

For more information about Los Angeles fines and fees, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Featured on CNN
ABC News
NBC News
Los Angeles Times
CBS News
The New York Times
Us Weekly
Entertainment Tonight
Good Morning America
Legal Broadcast Network
Avvo Rating 10.0
Client Reviews
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.