Money, Money, Money!

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Written by Nicole Kaplan

My new year’s resolution is to sweat the small stuff! We are often focused almost exclusively on the imprisonment portion of the client’s sentence, but fines and restitution can impact a client’s life in prison and beyond in big ways.

Failure to participate in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program can prevent early release or participation in prison programs, limit commissary and get a client assigned to the worst housing. After release, they can make payments for years but never get ahead as interest compounds. And the government can collect for 20 years! 18 U.S.C. § 3613(b).

We can do a great deal to protect clients on the front end. First, we can ask to waive interest on any fine or restitution. 18 U.S.C. § 3612(f)(3). Second, in appropriate cases, we can ask the court to delay collection of payments until the prison term ends and supervised release begins. The judgment form, A0245, provides for this option, and looks like this:

Nothing is small stuff when a client gets sentenced. Let’s all resolve to focus on the whole sentencing package in 2023 and beyond.

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