Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Attorney Fees?

No, the law states, that if you don’t pay your attorney fees, you are going to jail. Although, if you don’t pay attorney fees there might be some other repercussions you might not come across. For not paying attorney fees, you might be held in contempt of court and have your properties seized. Which you don’t want, so, you better watch out.

But what is contempt of court?

It is a crime that is referred to, as disrespect or being disobedient towards a court or law, or a justice or a legislative body. Ex: not showing up in court when the date of your case is given.

Nonpayment of fees is not a crime, but some attorneys might have procedures. The attorney can pursue civil action, to collect the fees. It violates some ethical rules or arrangement. If, so that is the case then the attorney can file a case. If nonpayment is combined with other misconduct as well like, fraud there could be some serious penalties. To understand the topic better you need to understand the under which circumstances you might be held and what penalties you face.

First lets understand how concept of attorney fees

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The concept of attorney fees

In the legal world, lawyers or law firms are expected to be paid on an hourly basis or the basis of contingency. You need to understand that, their payment covers the worth of their time and efforts. They won’t take up the case if they don’t find any satisfaction from the fees. Most lawyers have a fee structure. Bases on which they are excepted to get paid. These fee structures can vary from lawyer to lawyer and case to case.

Before hiring an attorney, you must be aware of their fee structure in advance. If they are paid on an hourly basis, the payment covers meetings, research, investigation, and court appearances. In the case of a contingency fee arrangement, they are offered a percentage of the settlement or damages only if they win the case.

Can you go to jail for not paying attorney fees?

Can you not pay the attorney fees and go to jail? No, but as mentioned earlier it can lead to serious repercussions and some serious damages. No law puts you in jail for not paying your attorney, but your lawyer can take the help of the legal authorities to sue you as well. This can lead to the seizing of damages as well.

The consequences for not paying the attorney will to the destruction of your reputation in the legal community. Attorney rely on referrals and testimonials from clients, so if you don’t pay, in the future no lawyer or an attorney will agree to work with you nor will they believe you. If you pay it could hurt the legal relationships with other legal professionals in the future.

Now, let us discuss some serious problems faced if you don’t pay the attorney.

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Consequence of not paying attorney fees

Problems faced, if you fail to pay the attorney, here are some potential issues/ consequences

1) They file a lawsuit against you, to recover the damages or the money owed to him. In some cases the court will enforce to collect the amount.

2) The attorney can place a lien on the settlement or the judgment, on the client’s behalf. It, simply means that client receives any monetary compensation in the legal case, the attorney has a right to claim it as his own.

3) It can also affect the client’s credit score. If the unpaid fees are sent to a collection agency, it can appear as a negative mark on the credit report, making it difficult for them to obtain credit in the future.

4) They can file case against you, if you purposefully try to avoid the payment of the attorney, in the state bar association, which will lead to suspension of their attorney license. It will also lead to disciplinary actions.

5) In extreme cases, if a client engages in fraud or deceit, the client maybe he will be put under criminal charges like fraud, theft, or even court of contempt which effect badly on your life and financial aids.

It is likely not to avoid the payment of the fees if you don’t want to get yourself in trouble. If you are unable to pay the fees then it is better to have a transparent relationship with your attorney. Talk it out and make it clear we will, you be able to pay it.

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Ethical issues

Nonpayment to the lawyers/attorney will put them in a tough spot as they also have to cover their expenses and a living out of it. So, they put in so much effort and resources without even getting compensated. It also affects the law system. Continuing not to pay the expenses, of the lawyer they will be forced to take legal action.

Remember it is important to pay the attorney because they help you and use their skills to make a living out of it. So, it is not fair to not pay them.

Steps to take to avoid any legal problem

1) Talk to your attorney/lawyer. Be transparent about your financial situation.

2) Explore payment methods; consider paying in installments (EMIs).

3) Seek the opinion of a legal expert.

4) Resolve the dispute and come up with an alternative solution.

NOTE: According to American law, you pay your attorneys a reasonable amount.

Talk it out before, hiring the attorney. Explain everything in detail your expenses, income, bills, and let the attorney decide whether or not to take your case.

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Struggling to make payments to the attorney fees.

Here are some tips to help your situation

  • Have an honest conversation.
  • Look for legal aid organizations.
  • Try pro bono services some attorney offers representation fees for free.
  • Ask for a court appointed attorney.

Research well for your situation. Ask around for opinions. Look for legal aid and ask for help from your family and friends. Reach an understanding with your lawyer. Never hesitate to speak.

Matters concerning legal authorities will always have some serious consequences. So if you ever get in trouble regarding this matter, understand one thing seek help, and never opt for fraud and theft or any criminal ways. It can badly affect your not only finances but your reputation, class, and personality as well. Keep in mind that you have legal aid in your locality. It is only fair that you use someone’s advances, you should pay them as well. It is basic humanity to help each other.

Hope this article finds you well and beneficial.

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1. Can you go to jail for not paying your attorney?

No law states that you will be sentenced to jail if you do not pay your attorney, although it may have some serious consequences.

2. Can attorney refuse to represent if you pay?

Yes, he can. But some organizations offer them for free.

3. Can I negotiate the payment?

Depends upon the fee structure and the relationship between the client and the attorney.

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