Can criminal proceedings be brought against me for non-payment to an attorney?

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Can criminal proceedings be brought against me for non-payment to an attorney?

I hired an attorney 7 years ago to help with custody. I did pay her through the proceedings but by the time it was over I owed her about $2,300. I made several payments and due to lack of work we were unable to pay for quite some time. The attorney took me back to court in 2 years and had a judgement drawn up for more than $4,000, saying she had added interest. She said that I should sign it before we go before the judge to avoid having to go to court (not knowing what to do) I reluctantly signed it. Now she is saying she is going to start criminal proceedings for non-payment. What kind of criminal charges can she ask the prosecutor to file?

Asked on February 24, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Failure to pay a bill is a civil case and NOT a criminal case.   There won't be any criminal charges for failure to pay.  It is unethical and a violation of the rules of Professional Responsibility for an attorney to use the threat of criminal prosecution to gain an advantage in a civil case.  It would be advisable to contact the MO State Bar regarding this incident.


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