Fines & Fees
Fines and fees are commonly part of a criminal sentence. If you are unable to pay your fines or fees because of poverty or disability, you should notify the court as soon as possible. You should request something called an Ability to Pay Assessment. An ability to pay assessment is when the judge considers if you are really unable to pay.
If the judge agrees that you are unable to pay, you can request several ways to solve this problem. Some of the options are: reducing your fines and fees to an amount you can pay, changing your fines and fees to community service, or placing you on a payment plan.
The process for requesting an ability to pay assessment varies by court. One way to request an ability to pay assessment is to write down the reasons why you cannot pay and filing that with the court. Be sure to include your case number, full name, address, phone number, and a request for a hearing with the judge. You should sign this document and send a copy to the court clerk and the prosecuting attorney.
Some courts may allow you to request an ability to pay assessment by calling the court or showing up on a day when court is in session and waiting until the judge has time to hear from you. Check with your court for more information.
Arkansas law allows many kinds of criminal records to be sealed. When a criminal record is sealed, most people are no longer able to see the official court records of your conviction. However, you must first complete your entire sentence. This means that you have (as applicable): completed any prison term, completed probation or parole, paid all fines and fees, & done everything else the judge ordered.
Some kinds of criminal records can only be sealed after completing a waiting period. The waiting period starts after you complete your sentence. Also, there are some criminal records that can never be sealed.
There is no guarantee that your record will be sealed. You need to ask the judge for approval to have your record sealed.
A pardon is when the governor or president uses their power to essentially “undo” a criminal conviction. The Governor of Arkansas has the power to pardon people convicted of breaking an Arkansas law. The President of the United States has the power to pardon people convicted of breaking federal law.
The governor or president also has the power of commutation. A commutation is when a sentence is lessened. For example, a death sentence can be lessened to life imprisonment or a sentence of 15 years can be lessened to 5 years. The governor has the power to commute the sentences of people convicted of breaking an Arkansas law. The president has the power to commute the sentences of people convicted of breaking federal law.
No person has a right to a pardon or commutation. If you request a pardon or commutation, you are requesting mercy from the governor (for state crimes) or president (for federal crimes). There is no appeal if your pardon or commutation request is denied.