Can I get my record expunged if I owe any fines or fees?

Fees, Assessments, Fines, and Victim Restitution are all types of costs the court can charge when a defendant is convicted of a crime.

  • Fees and Assessments: These are costs to reimburse the court and county. They are not punishment.
  • Fine: A fine is a punishment. Examples are fines you have to pay because you were found guilty of a speeding ticket or a fine the court charges all convicted defendants to fund a general restitution fund.
  • Victim Restitution: This is a unique type of cost where the court orders a defendant to pay the victim of a crime directly. This is different from the mandatory restitution fund fine.


Impact on expungement: Usually, if a person successfully completes probation, their expungement request is mandatory, meaning it must be granted. If they have not successfully completed probation, the court has to decide whether or not to expunge the conviction (the court has discretion). Whether unpaid costs make a petition mandatory or discretionary depends on whether the costs are a condition of probation.  


Fees and Assessments: Probation fees and public defender fees are not conditions of probation. So, owing these fees does not make a petition discretionary. A judge may still have to grant an expungement request if there are other unpaid fees and no other reasons to deny the petition.


NOTE about Elimination of Fees: Because of laws beginning in 2021, some fees (and some of debts related to them) no longer exist. 


Fines and Restitution: Unpaid fines and victim restitution are conditions of probation. So, those unpaid costs can mean the judge gets to decide whether the expungement request should be granted.  Although unpaid costs should not mean your petition will be automatically denied, judges usually deny expungement requests where restitution has not been paid.  So, when repaying debt related to a conviction, prioritizing payment of fines and restitution might increase the chances of a request being granted if there are no other reasons to deny the request.  


If you have unpaid fines or restitution, you may want to speak with an attorney.


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