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N.J.S.A. 2C:46-2. Default in Payment of Fines or Penalties

NJ Law: Failure to Pay Fines & Penalties

N.J.S.A. 2C:46-2 of New Jersey criminal laws sets forth what a Court may do in the event that a defendant fails to pay fines following a criminal plea or conviction. This law provides as follows: 

2C:46-2. Consequences of Default in Payment
a. When a defendant sentenced to pay an assessment imposed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1979, c. 396 (C.2C:43-3.1), a penalty imposed pursuant to section 11 of P.L.2001, c. 81 (C.2C:43-3.6), a penalty imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c. 73 (C.2C:14-10), monthly probation fee, fine, a penalty imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1999, c. 295 (C.2C:43-3.5), other court imposed financial penalties or to make restitution defaults in the payment thereof or of any installment, upon the motion of the person authorized by law to collect the payment, the motion of the prosecutor, the motion of the victim entitled to payment of restitution, the motion of the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, the motion of the State or county Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy or upon its own motion, the court shall recall him, or issue a summons or a warrant of arrest for his appearance. The court shall afford the person notice and an opportunity to be heard on the issue of default. Failure to make any payment when due shall be considered a default. The standard of proof shall be by a preponderance of the evidence, and the burden of establishing good cause for a default shall be on the person who has defaulted.
(1) If the court finds that the person has defaulted without good cause, the court shall:
(a) Order the suspension of the driver's license or the nonresident reciprocity driving privilege of the person; and

(b) Prohibit the person from obtaining a driver's license or exercising reciprocity driving privileges until the person has made all past due payments; and

(c) Notify the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission of the action taken; and

(d) Take such other actions as may be authorized by law.

(2) If the court finds that the person defaulted on payment of a court imposed financial obligation without good cause and finds that the default was willful, the court may, in addition to the action required by paragraph (1) of this subsection a., impose a term of imprisonment or participation in a labor assistance program or enforced community service to achieve the objective of the court imposed financial obligation. These options shall not reduce the amount owed by the person in default. The term of imprisonment or enforced community service or participation in a labor assistance program in such case shall be specified in the order of commitment. It need not be equated with any particular dollar amount but, in the case of a fine it shall not exceed one day for each $20.00 of the fine nor 40 days if the fine was imposed upon conviction of a disorderly persons offense nor 25 days for a petty disorderly persons offense nor one year in any other case, whichever is the shorter period. In no case shall the total period of imprisonment in the case of a disorderly persons offense for both the sentence of imprisonment and for failure to pay a fine exceed six months.

(3) Except where incarceration is ordered pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection a., if the court finds that the person has defaulted the court shall take appropriate action to modify or establish a reasonable schedule for payment, and, in the case of a fine, if the court finds that the circumstances that warranted the fine have changed or that it would be unjust to require payment, the court may revoke or suspend the fine or the unpaid portion of the fine.

(4) When failure to pay an assessment imposed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1979, c. 396 (C.2C:43-3.1), monthly probation fee, restitution, a penalty imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1999, c. 295 (C.2C:43-3.5), a penalty imposed pursuant to section 11 of P.L.2001, c. 81 (C.2C:43-3.6), a penalty imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c. 73 (C.2C:14-10), or other financial penalties or to perform enforced community service or to participate in a labor assistance program is determined to be willful, the failure to do so shall be considered to be contumacious.

(5) When a fine, assessment imposed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1979, c. 396 (C.2C:43-3.1), other financial penalty or restitution is imposed on a corporation, it is the duty of the person or persons authorized to make disbursements from the assets of the corporation or association to pay it from such assets and their failure so to do may be held to be contumacious.

b. Upon any default in the payment of a fine, assessment imposed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1979, c. 396 (C.2C:43-3.1), monthly probation fee, a penalty imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1999, c. 295 (C.2C:43-3.5), a penalty imposed pursuant to section 11 of P.L.2001, c. 81 (C.2C:43-3.6), a penalty imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c. 73 (C.2C:14-10), other financial penalties, restitution, or any installment thereof, execution may be levied and such other measures may be taken for collection of it or the unpaid balance thereof as are authorized for the collection of an unpaid civil judgment entered against the defendant in an action on a debt.

c. Upon any default in the payment of restitution or any installment thereof, the victim entitled to the payment may institute summary collection proceedings authorized by subsection b. of this section.

d. Upon any default in the payment of an assessment imposed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1979, c. 396 (C.2C:43-3.1) or any installment thereof, the Victims of Crime Compensation Board or the party responsible for collection may institute summary collection proceedings authorized by subsection b. of this section.

e. When a defendant sentenced to make restitution to a public entity other than the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, defaults in the payment thereof or any installment, the court may, in lieu of other modification of the sentence, order the defendant to perform work in a labor assistance program or enforced community service program.

f. If a defendant ordered to participate in a labor assistance program or enforced community service program fails to report for work or to perform the assigned work, the comprehensive enforcement hearing officer may revoke the work order and impose any sentence permitted as a consequence of the original conviction.

g. If a defendant ordered to participate in a labor assistance program or an enforced community service program pays all outstanding assessments, the comprehensive enforcement hearing officer may review the work order, and modify the same to reflect the objective of the sentence.

h. As used in this section:

(1) “Comprehensive enforcement program” means the program established pursuant to the “Comprehensive Enforcement Program Fund Act,” P.L.1995, c. 9 (C.2B:19-1 et seq.).

(2) The terms “labor assistance program” and “enforced community service” have the same meaning as those terms are defined in section 5 of the “Comprehensive Enforcement Program Fund Act,” P.L.1995, c. 9 (C.2B:19-5).

(3) “Public entity” means the State, any county, municipality, district, public authority, public agency and any other political subdivision or public body in the State.
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