Philadelphia, PA asked in Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Can a parole officer make you pay fines if you dont have the money

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: A failure to pay fines or costs associated with your conviction is a necessary condition of complying with probation or parole. Failure to pay them can be deemed a technical violation and you can be violated and go to prison. However, if you truly have no means to pay any of your fines and costs, you must inform your parole office of this immediately to try and work something out. Pennsylvania does not have "debtor's prison" and therefore does not believe in incarcerating its citizens merely because of nonpayment. That being said, most people can afford to pay something and therefore usually a payment plan is arranged, even if it's $5/month to demonstrate that you're making some effort toward payment and remaining in compliance with parole.

I certainly advise against simply not paying and seeing what happens. Your parole officer will consider that a technical violation and will not be happy. I tell any client of mine who is on probation or parole that COMMUNITCATION is the single most important part of supervision. Parole officers have power and they like to use it if they can. They can hold the key to your freedom. So, whether you like your parole officer or not, you must comply with the conditions set and communitcate with him/her if there's an issue. So, if you truly can't pay, you must inform your parole officer. If you can't make a scheduled appointment or you're going to be late, call your parole officer and explain the situation. Even if you're going to test positive for a drug test, tell your parole officer and explain the issue. They're going to find out anyway. You're in a much better position if you're honest with them and communicate with them, then if you just blow them off. This way they know that you respect their authority and power and will give you more respect and trust and will be less likely to violate you.

I hope that helps. If you have additional questions or need further assistance, don't hesitate to contact me.

Brian M. Fishman

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