Under New Jersey law, when a person is ordered to pay a fine as punishment for a traffic violation or any other infraction, it is important that he or she make every effort to pay on time. There is a provision in the law that the individual be given a reasonable opportunity to pay a fine. That includes agreeing to let the person pay in installments if there is sufficient cause shown that they cannot pay it all at once.
If the person doesn't adhere to the payment plan, then the court has many options to use against that individual. For example, they can:
- Suspend the person's driver's license
- Issue an arrest warrant
- Cite him or her for contempt
- Issue a failure to appear (FTA) warrant
Failure to Pay Fines for Criminal Offenses
After defaulting on a payment plan or failing to pay a criminal fine, the judge has the choice of ordering an arrest warrant on the individual and force the defendant to appear in court. If the defendant doesn't have a good reason for not having paid the fine, the judge can then choose to suspend the individual's driver's license until such time that the fine has been paid.
If the decision not to pay the fine is deemed willful, the judge can incarcerate the defendant. For non-payment of a fine, the jail term assessed cannot be more than one day for every $20 owed in fines. It cannot be more than 40 days in jail for a disorderly person's offense. For a petty disorderly persons offense, it can't be more than 25 days.
The court has the right to sentence the defendant to community service rather than order jail time. The amount of community service is up to the judge to decide. The judge can issue a failure to appear (FTA), which orders the person to show up in court or the judge may revoke the person's driver's license.
Failure to Pay a Fine for Violating a Municipal Ordinance
A municipal ordinance violation may be issued due to such crimes as urinating in a public place, having an open container of alcohol, drinking in public or disorderly conduct. If the defendant doesn't pay the fine, the judge may issue an FTA, an arrest warrant or order the revocation of the person's driver's license. In addition, the defendant may be jailed for as many as 90 days.
Failure to Pay a Traffic Citation
Similar to a criminal offense, the judge is able to order the defendant to appear in court for non-payment of a traffic summons or ticket. The judge also has the option to issue what is known as a “close out”. It literally means that the traffic case is closed out and the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles will issue a notice that the person's driver's license has been revoked. The license is then suspended and from that point forward the defendant cannot legally operate a motor vehicle until paying the fine. Incarceration is also a possibility with a limit of three months and $20 for each day the person serves in jail.
Contact an Attorney for Help with a Failure to Pay Fines
When faced with any legal issue, it's important to have qualified representation to handle your case. The attorneys at the Villani & DeLuca of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey are experienced with all aspects of criminal law in New Jersey and can assist you.
Most of the above-listed violations aren't serious crimes and are not worth the long-term problems such as driver's license suspension, arrest warrants and even jail time that can come with failing to pay the fine. If you need to arrange a payment plan or would like to discuss other options, the lawyers at Villani & DeLuca can work with you and the court to come to a solution that will avoid the consequences of not paying the fine.
If you are having a problem with an unpaid fine in Monmouth County or Ocean County, New Jersey, Villani & DeLuca would be glad to discuss your case and help you come to the best possible solution. Contact Villani & DeLuca for a consultation today.