Legal Financial Obligations
Important Information about Legal Financial Obligations
If you owe court fines or fees (also known as Legal Financial Obligations or "LFOs") then you have certain rights you need to know about:
Right to a lawyer. You have the right to have a lawyer advise you and represent you before the court. If you cannot afford a lawyer and are facing possible immediate jail time for failing to pay your LFOs, then you have the right to a public defender and the court will appoint you one if you ask.
Right to have your financial circumstances considered: You can be ordered to serve jail time for failing to pay your LFOs only if you are able to pay them but unwilling to do so. If, by no fault of your own, your income and assets are such that it is virtually impossible for you to pay your LFOs and provide basic necessities for your family, then your inability to pay is a defense against being ordered to jail. If this is the case, then you should ask for a public defender to help you make your case to the court. You should also complete a Financial Screening to help your public defender help you.
Right to have your fines/fees waived or suspended under certain circumstances: If you are physically or mentally disabled and therefore are not able to pay your LFOs through no fault of your own, you have the right to ask the court to temporarily suspended or altogether waive your LFOs. You will need to request a hearing before the court in order to have your request considered.
Here are specific instructions on how to get your LFO case reviewed by the court:
District Court - contact District Court directly and ask for a hearing. If you are on warrant status you may need to pay a warrant quash fee.
Superior Court - contact the Superior Court Clerk's Office and ask for a hearing.
Waiver of Interest:
Under certain circumstances, you may ask the court to waive the interest that has accrued on your LFOs. The primarily applies to your non-restitution LFOs. For more information about whether you qualify, how to apply, and what documentation you will have to produce, please see the ACLU's Interest Waiver Guide.
Please note that this information is provided as an educational resource by a third-party (the ACLU) and the Benton County Office of Public Defense is not responsible for its content. Furthermore, please note that you ARE NOT entitled to public defense counsel or advice for the purposes of seeking a LFO interest waiver.