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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26788
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I am preparing a Motion To Dismiss jail fees and fines. I

Customer Question

I am preparing a Motion To Dismiss jail fees and fines. I had drug charges from 2002. Out of which 5years IN a Okla. prison. After which I have completed a Drug Court program out on the street. All with no snags or failed urine tests. Since then the Judge over Drug Court dismissed all of my fees and fines.
Now I still have the remaining balance of fines and jail fees($4900.00)Ihave been paying $25.00 a month. I had a balance of $5900.00 in the beginning.
During all of this I was diagnosed with Hep C went through the Interferon treatment. After 12 mos. I was diagnosed terminall and now i am totally disabled, I'm on 2 transplant lists and I draw $860.00 SSI, my wife and I struggle everyday to salvage enough enough resources to,pay the:mortgage, car insurance(1 car),premiums on health care for my wife, andpremiums for my own insurance(not Medicaid), and on and on....... .
The Judge in Ottawa Co. Oklahoma says that a new law had been passed, forbidding Judges to dismiss fines fees as a Motion To Dismiss as an answer to such a document based on the hard shipthat said fines only add to.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

In many states court costs and related state fees are mandatory, which can present a problem for people such as yourself whose health has turned and who become largely incapable of meeting a payment schedule. If Oklahoma law states that such costs can no longer be dismissed, your motion to dismiss will be doomed to failure.

That doesn't, on the other hand, mean that there is no remedy for you, if you have a legitimate hardship and simply cannot pay. The US Supreme Court has ruled that it is not a crime to be poor and that the law can look into options other than incarceration for those who make the best possible efforts to meet their obligation but just can't do it. What's punishable would be to deliberately duck your fines and payments because you're tired of paying them. But that's not your situation.

Consider making partial payments in an amount that's as big as you can afford to pay, so that it shows good faith but still allows you enough to live on. It's not going to thrill the clerk or whoever has to take in the money, but they'll accept it from you anyway. If they start making noises about punishing you, you would be entitled to a hearing, and as long as you could demonstrate -- as I'm sure you can -- what amount of money comes in and what remains after necessities and have it show you can't afford more, you should be okay. It's been my experience that when a defendant is too poor to pay, the court can, instead of arresting the defendant, enter the remaining debt as a civil judgment, so that in the unlikely event that the defendant comes into money, the state will be able to garnish it in satisfaction of the rest of the debt.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Relist: I need to know for sure answers are Oklahoma specific..
I need to know for sure answers are Oklahoma specific.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

This is really a 13th Amendment/Equal Protection Constitutional issue involving the inability of an indigent defendant to pay. Many states have enacted their own statutes which incorporate the Federal law. Unfortunately, though I have looked, I do not see any Oklahoma case law. If there are cases that have dealt with the issue, they are not published on the web, and I have no access to them here in NY.

While I believe my answer is correct, I am going to opt out. If we have an Oklahoma criminal expert who can provide you with any case law, he'll be able to do so.

Good luck!