Pleading guilty to a criminal charge can cost more than you think

A criminal offense is disruptive and often quite expensive for the defendant. They face fines and court costs after a conviction. There are also attorney fees to consider when they defend themselves.

The longer the trial takes, the more it will cost. During that time, they will likely have to miss a substantial amount of work, affecting their income or possibly their job security. Many people accused of crimes in Texas plead guilty because they think that will be the cheaper solution or the one with fewer long-term consequences.

However, a guilty plea doesn’t necessarily mean that you will limit the costs you incur because of a criminal charge.

Judges still have significant discretion when you plead guilty

Unless you enter into some airtight plea bargain with the prosecutor that limits the penalties you face, a guilty plea does not inherently protect you from financial losses in a criminal case. The judge will have the option of sentencing you to jail time and fines as permitted under Texas criminal code.

In fact, in scenarios where the situation has a financial impact on the other party involved, the judge could actually order you to pay restitution. Restitution involves a financial obligation from a criminal defendant to the victims of the alleged offense. Restitution is common in certain theft offenses like embezzlement.

Still, judges can award the victims of many different kinds of crimes restitution. Even those hurt in a drunk driving crash caused by someone without insurance could receive restitution. Restitution obligations can require that you work a job during your incarceration or lead to liens against your property.

 A successful defense is a way to limit your losses

The best way to protect yourself from the financial hardship that often accompanies a criminal conviction is to prevent a conviction. While you will need to invest in your criminal defense by hiring an attorney and paying for time in court, a successful defense will mean that you don’t face restitution and fines in addition to other costs.

The long-term financial consequences of a conviction will potentially far outweigh the cost to defend yourself in the Texas criminal courts. Having a realistic idea of what criminal charges actually cost can motivate you to defend your finances and your future.

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