WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Failure To Pay Court Fines Is Not Enough To Be Sentenced

May 22, 2014

The McDonough County Courthouse
Credit www.cyberdriveillinois.com

Nine of the inmates at McDonough County Jail are there for failing to pay their court fines. However, not everyone who fails to pay gets sent to jail.

Assistant State’s attorney Justin Bougher says not paying a fine is not enough for defendants to get sent to jail, prosecutors must demonstrate negligence.

“If we can show that you willfully violated a court order, like blowing money at the casino, doing other things optional everywhere except your court fines, that can land you in jail," Said Bougher.

Bougher said on the other hand, courts are willing to work with defendants who cannot come up with the money.
“They’ll say I lost my job, but I can pay $25 a month we’ll say okay that’s fine, pay what you can, come back in three months, and we’ll give them an order that says their court date," Said Bougher.

Bougher said the courts do not want to send defendants to jail.

Their theory is by giving the defendants a sentence, their food and housing are being paid for when they could be working and making enough to pay their fines.