What are my options if I cannot pay for a Class C misdemeanor fine due to unemployment?

I’m 18 years old and on last Friday I was charged with a Class C misdemeanor

for possession of drug paraphernalia. I scheduled a court date for next week and

I wanted to know what are my options if I can’t pay the $500 fine due to

unemployment.

Asked on March 9, 2016 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

This is a higher end fine amount.... so you have a couple of options. 
First... don't miss court.  Missing court will result in the court issuing a new warrant for your arrest... and new charge of failure to appear. 
Second... when you do appear... talk to the prosecutor about any programs available to first time offenders.  Explain to her that you cannot pay the full fine, show them proof of your unemployment... and see if you can work a better deal.  A better deal would be a lower fine with a payment plan option.   As a caution, however, as you are visiting with the prosecutor.... do not disclose details of your case to make their case stronger.  Anything you tell them can potentially be used against you. 
Another option is to go to the court, tell them you are still trying to find an attorney to advise you and that you would like one reset to find an attorney.  Thirty days is fairly typical for this.  It's doesn't make your case go away... but it does buy you some time to obtain new employment and pay the fine.  If you can get in to see one attorney before next week that would help.... you can show the attorney's business card to the judge as proof that you really are trying to find representation. Many criminal attorneys offer free consultations... so find one of those... and set up the consult.  The other advantage of the consult is that it will give you a better idea of the programs, offers, and habits of the judge you're in front of ... so that you can better understand what is a good deal in your jurisdiction and what is a poor deal in your jurisdiction.  From there, you not only obtain extra time, you get the insight needed to make a better decision.


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