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An Inability to Pay Restitution Won’t Get You Put in Jail

August 08, 2011

An Inability to Pay Restitution Won’t Get You Put in Jail

In many cases a person may be placed on probation with an order of the court to pay restitution. Such a situation is very common in theft cases or situations where another party suffers personal injuries or property damage in cases of assault, vandalism, or other damages to property. The defendant is ordered to pay restitution over the period of probation to the victim.
Recently in Davidson County, a trial judge incarcerated a defendant after he failed to pay restitution as ordered by the court. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals found that incarceration was not appropriate without the trial court first finding that the defendant had an inability to pay. In the case of State v. Raymond Bradley Jr., the court of criminal appeals, relying on a Tennessee Supreme court case, held that for a defendant’s probation to be revoked for failure to pay restitution a court must “articulate a finding that [the] defendant had neglected or willfully refused to pay” and the court must find that alternatives to imprisonment were inadequate to meet the State’s interests in punishing the offender, deterring others from similar conduct, and ensuring payment of restitution to victims of crime.” Unless such are found, the court held that fundamental fairness requires the defendant remain on probation.
If you have any questions about a criminal matter, do not hesitate to contact Vince Wyatt or David Raybin at (615) 256-6666.