When Not Paying Fees Is a Probation Violation


If you have to endure a criminal conviction, the best punishment you can hope for is typically probation. It keeps you out of prison and it allows you to retain some forms of personal freedom as well as be with your family. Unfortunately, probation is very much a case of freedom isn’t free in our society. In return for not being placed in prison, you will instead be forced to pay for the privilege of being on probation. For some, this isn’t an issue. However, if you already have a tight budget, something that might have caused you to turn to crime in the first place, you may find keeping up with the fees that come with probation difficult.


The fees associated with probation can vary on a case by case basis. In Minnesota, misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes have a one-time probation fee that needs to be paid. Typically, this is actually rather manageable. However, when things become unmanageable is when all the extra fees that come with probation become involved. If you are placed under electronic monitoring, it has a fee. If you need regular drug or alcohol urine testing, that has a fee for every test. If your case had a victim, you will be responsible for paying them restitution during your probation in regular payments.

It all adds up rather quickly, and the truly unfortunate part is that if you cannot pay, it is considered a probation violation. Failure to pay these fees or restitution will result in your probation officer filing a probation violation and you will end up in prison.


It is no secret that the legal system in our country is often hardest on those of the least means. However, you do have options if you cannot afford your probation fees. Your best option is to sit down and be candid with your probation officer about it. They’re people and they often can understand. Your probation officer can work with you to get the fees lowered or even waived altogether if you cannot afford them due to various financial circumstances. However, the worst thing you can do is to not even try to pay them, as they will have no mercy.

As for restitution, this will need to be paid eventually, but you can have the amount to be paid at certain times lowered. If you can prove that you cannot make the payments, the payments can be lessened, but the time to pay them in full will obviously be extended. Furthermore, if you can’t pay in full, often paying at least some of the amount due will look good to a judge.

Do note that if you cannot pay the fees or restitution due during your probation that trying to get the amount lowered will put your life under a microscope. The probation officer and courts will look at the financial aspects in your life to gauge your earning