Criminal Convictions: When the Long Arm of the Law Leaves Your Pockets Short

Criminal Convictions: When the Long Arm of the Law Leaves Your Pockets Short

When faced with a criminal charge, many people fear the potential of being put in jail. What most defendants don’t consider is the costs that accompany a criminal conviction, or even the costs waiting for them when they’re released from incarceration.

The Court System Doesn’t Wait for a Conviction Before it Hits Your Pockets:

Even before you’re convicted of criminal charges, you can expect to be hit with all kinds of preliminary costs, for instance:

  • If you’re arrested, you can expect that some kind of bail will be set in order for you to be released until your court date. If you can’t afford bail, you’ll likely be using the services of a bail bondsman, whose fee will cost you 10% of your set bail.

Example: If the commissioner sets your bail at $10,000, you’ll have to pay a bail bondsmen $1,000 in order to go home until your next appearance in court.

  • Sometimes, a judge will ask that you abide by certain provisions in order to remain free until you come back to court. One of those provisions includes home electronic monitoring, a service that allows you to be home and attend work while being monitored by the court. This service requires a landline and payment of a monthly fee.
  • Next, you’ll need to secure a criminal defense attorney to help you understand your charges and their consequences, appear with you at all your hearings, develop a defense strategy, and negotiate with prosecutors.

Depending on the severity and number of charges pending against you, a good criminal defense lawyer could cost you anywhere from an estimated $1500 to upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

All jurisdictions offer low-cost options for representation through the Office of the Public Defender, but even that option could cost a small fee, and get you an attorney who is already over-burdened with many other cases assigned by the court.

Judges Use Fines Within the Courtroom to Send a Message:

Once inside the courtroom, a huge window for further fines, fees and expenses opens. Judges have a lot of flexibility in punishing criminal defendants with incarceration, fines, or both; and often use that flexibility to send a message to first time offenders- and punish those that repeat criminal activity.

  • Court fees and fines have no set limitations and could run anywhere from lower amounts, like $25.00 – to numbers in the thousands.
  • Whether you are ordered a period of incarceration or not, any criminal conviction will likely carry some kind of parole or probation, which is paid for by the defendant on a monthly basis through the duration of the probation period.
  • In cases of theft, burglary or where property damage has occurred, Judges often order that restitution be paid to the victim. This could equal the amount taken, the cost to repair damages, and may also include extra costs to compensate the victim for pain, suffering or inconvenience.
  • In addition, you may be ordered to attend substance abuse classes, anger management classes, or parenting classes; which are all court ordered requirements that could carry enrollment or monthly class fees.

DUI’s Cost You More than Your License

Being convicted of a DUI is perhaps the costliest of any criminal conviction. With so many ride share and taxi options available, like Lyft and Uber; prosecutors and Judges show little mercy on defendants who choose to drink and drive. Aside from possible jail time, a DUI conviction, especially for repeat offenders can hit your pockets hard.

  • DUI defendants are almost always subject to heavy court fines and fees
  • Not only do defendants face penalties in the criminal court system, but they also face harsh penalties with the MVA
  • Anyone found to be under the influence of alcohol while driving is taken to jail, and their car is towed, leaving the driver to pay impound fees that accumulate daily when they are released
  • Many repeat DUI offenders lose their driving privileges, which can translate to job loss and difficulty finding and getting to new employment
  • In place of taking away driving privileges, you may be allowed to drive under supervision of the court with an Interlock device. The interlock device system installation and monthly monitoring services are paid for entirely by the defendant, which can add up quickly depending on how long the court feels monitoring services are needed.


In some cases, if you’ve met all the requirements after your conviction, you may be eligible to expunge your record. In California, the cost for expungement for each charge will run you $395.00, plus a $150.00 filing fee.

As imperative as your freedom is, a criminal conviction can cost you more than jail time. It can, and likely will, carry heavy fines and financial requirements that you just may not have. The inability to pay court ordered fees can result in a judge sentencing you to incarceration, or adding additional fees on top of your already heavy financial penalties. To protect your rights, and your pockets, you should have a criminal defense attorney experienced in negotiation and aggressive criminal defense on your side.

Give Shield Criminal Defense Law a call today at (213) 514-8732 for a comprehensive assessment of your charges and a realistic projection of how we can defend you, your loved ones, and your wallet.

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