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Can Court Fines Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

Are you facing criminal charges in Texas? If you are convicted of a crime, you will be subjected to a fine, which depending on the facts of the case, can be in the thousands. If you’d like to know what types of fines you’re up against, you can see Title 3, Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. This Chapter outlines the sentencing and fines for misdemeanors and felonies in the Lone Star State.

Here are some examples of the fines covered in the Penal Code:

  • Class C misdemeanor: A fine up to $500.
  • Class B misdemeanor: A fine up to $2,000.
  • Class A misdemeanor: A fine up to $4,000.
  • State jail felony, third degree felony, second degree felony, and third degree felony: A fine up to $10,000.

As you can see, Texas is tough on crime and it shows through its fines for criminal offenses. If you are facing criminal charges, you can expect to have fines imposed by the state. If you have been thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you may be wondering, “Can I include my court-ordered fines in my bankruptcy petition? Can my fines be discharged?” This is a good question and it comes up occasionally.

Unfortunately, court-ordered fines for criminal offenses and traffic violations cannot be discharged in bankruptcy because they fall under the category of “non-dischargeable debts.” This means they cannot be erased or wiped out through bankruptcy, but they are not the only debts in this class. As a general rule, the following types of debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy:

  • Court-ordered fines, such as penalties for committing a crime,
  • Victim restitution (money paid to crime victims or a crime victims’ fund),
  • Student loans,
  • Past-due child support,
  • Past-due alimony or spousal support, and
  • Recent taxes (usually less than three-years of age).

If you’re facing criminal charges and you are convicted, you have to pay the fines imposed by the court; there is no way around that. If you fail to pay the fines, they can be sent to collections and you can get into further legal trouble with the courts. The best way to avoid hefty fines in the first place is to fight your charges and beat your case. If that’s not possible, a favorable plea bargain may lead to lower fines, which can mean thousands in savings.

Looking for a Plano criminal defense lawyer? Contact us to set up your initial consultation.