Ability to Pay

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State Statute Description/Statute Name Statutory language Level of offense Definition of ability to pay Timeline Burden of proof Method of determination Mandatory Remedies if unable to pay
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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258B, § 8 Assessments imposed by court

If it is determined by a written finding of fact that an assessment, other than for a civil motor vehicle infraction imposed by this section would cause a substantial financial

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hardship to the person against whom the assessment is imposed or the person’s immediate family or the person’s dependents, the court may waive the fee or structure a payment plan in order to ensure compliance with payment; provided, however, that the court may order a person required to pay a domestic violence prevention and victim assistance assessment to complete at least 8 hours of community service in order to satisfy such assessment, if a structured payment would continue to impose a severe financial hardship. 

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severe financial hardship

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing No

waive the fee or structure a payment plan; community service in lieu of payment.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 279, § 1 Suspension of execution; payment of fine; probation; revocation of suspension; exceptions

When a person convicted before a court is sentenced to imprisonment, the court may direct that the execution of the sentence, or any part thereof, be suspended and that he

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be placed on probation for such time and on such terms and conditions as it shall fix. When a person so convicted is sentenced to pay a fine and to stand committed until it is paid, the court may direct that the execution of the sentence, or any part thereof, be suspended for such time as it shall fix and in its discretion that he be placed on probation on condition that he pay the fine within such time. If the fine does not exceed two hundred dollars and the court finds that the defendant is unable to pay it when imposed, the execution of the sentence shall be suspended and he may in its discretion be placed on probation, unless the court shall find that he will probably default, or that such suspension will be detrimental to the interests of the public. 

All

Not provided for

At enforcement of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing No

The execution of the sentence, or part of the sentence, may be suspended and the court may in its discretion place the person on probation.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 111B Fraudulent Motor Vehicle Insurance Claims; Penalties; Reimbursement of Insurer.

Upon a real or impending change in financial circumstances, a defendant ordered to pay restitution may petition the court for a modification of the amount, time or method of payment

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of restitution. If the court finds that because of any such change the payment of restitution will impose an undue financial hardship on the defendant or his family, the court may modify the amount, time or method of payment, but may not grant complete remission from payment of restitution.

All

Payment would impose an undue financial hardship on defendant or his family.

At defendant's request at enforcement Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing No

Remission from any payment of restitution or modify the amount, time or method of payment; 

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 111B Motor vehicle insurance policies; penalty for fraudulent claims

If a defendant who is required to make restitution defaults in any payment of restitution or installment thereof, the court shall hold him in contempt unless said defendant has made

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a good faith effort to pay such restitution. If said defendant has made a good faith effort to pay such restitution, the court may modify the amount, time or method of payment, but may not grant complete remission from payment of restitution.

All

N/A

At enforcement of fine or fee Not provided for Not provided for No

May modify the amount, time or method of payment, but may not grant complete remission.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 111B Fraudulent Motor Vehicle Insurance Claims; Penalties; Reimbursement of Insurer.

. . . Restitution shall be imposed in addition to incarceration or fine, and not in lieu thereof; provided, however, the court shall consider the defendant’s present and future ability

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to pay in its determinations regarding a fine; provided, further, that, whenever possible subject to the constraints of this paragraph and the first paragraph of this section, the amount of a fine imposed for a violation of this section shall equal twice the amount of damages or financial loss suffered as a result of the defendant’s crime.

Felony

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Not provided for Yes

N/A

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 111B Fraudulent Motor Vehicle Insurance Claims; Penalties; Reimbursement of Insurer.

. . . In determining the amount, time and method of payment of restitution, the court shall consider the financial resources of the defendant and the burden restitution will impose

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on the defendant.

All

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing Yes Not provided for
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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 127, § 145(a)-(b),(d),(f) Discharge of Poor Prisoners Held for Nonpayment of Fines.

(a) A court shall not commit a person to a correctional facility solely for non-payment of money owed if such person has established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the

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person is unable to pay the fine without causing substantial financial hardship to the person or their immediate family or dependents. A court shall determine whether the payment of a fine would cause such substantial financial hardship after a hearing and, in making such determination, shall consider the person’s employment status, income, financial resources, living expenses, number of dependents and any special circumstances that may affect a person’s ability to pay.

(b) A court shall not commit a person to a correctional facility for non-payment of money owed if such a person is not represented by counsel for the commitment proceeding, unless such person has waived counsel. A person deemed indigent for the purpose of being offered counsel and who is assigned counsel for the commitment portion of a proceeding solely for the nonpayment of money owed shall not be assessed a fee for such counsel.

(d) If a court determines that the payment of a fine would cause a substantial financial hardship pursuant to subsection (a), the court may impose an alternative to a fine or sentence to a correctional facility including, without limitation, community service.

(f) A person confined to a correctional facility for non-payment of money owed may petition the court for discharge from the correctional facility for an inability to pay the money owed due to a substantial financial hardship. If, after a hearing pursuant to subsection (a), the court determines that the person is not able to pay the money owed without causing a substantial financial hardship to the person, or the person’s immediate family or dependents, the court shall discharge the person from the correctional facility. No filing fee shall be charged for the filing of the petition.

All

Substantial financial hardship to the person or their immediate family or dependents; indigdent; 

At enforcement of fine or fee Not provided for Not provided for No

Discharge from jail when confined for nonpayment of fine; alternative to a fine or sentence to a correctional facility including, without limitation, community service; not assessed a fee for counsel.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 147(e) Counterfeit Marks — Manufacture, Use or Display.

Any person convicted under this section shall, in addition to any penalty imposed pursuant to subsection (b), be punished by a fine in an amount not to exceed three times

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the retail value of the items bearing or of services identified by a counterfeit mark, unless extenuating circumstances are shown by the defendant.

Misdemeanor

Extenuating circumstances

Not provided for Burden on defendant to show inability to pay Determined by judge without hearing Yes

N/A

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 27A Removing or Concealing Motor Vehicles or Trailers to Defraud Insurers; Reimbursement of Insurers.

Restitution shall be imposed in addition to incarceration or fine, and not in lieu thereof; provided, however, the court shall consider the defendant’s present and future ability to pay in

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its determinations regarding a find; provided, further, that, whenever possible subject to the constraints of this paragraph and the preceding paragraph, the amount of a fine imposed for a violation of this section shall equal twice the amount of damages or financial loss suffered as a result of the defendant’s crime.

Felony

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing Yes

N/A

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 27A Removing or Concealing Motor Vehicles or Trailers to Defraud Insurers; Reimbursement of Insurers.

In determining the amount, time and method of payment of restitution, the court shall consider the financial resources of the defendant and the burden restitution will impose on the defendant.

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Upon a real or impending change in financial circumstances, a defendant ordered to pay restitution may petition the court for a modification of the amount, time or method of payment of restitution. If the court finds that because of any such change the payment of restitution will cause a substantial financial hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s immediate family or the defendant’s dependents, the court may grant remission from any payment of restitution or modify the amount, time or method of payment.

Felony

A substantial financial hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s immediate family or the defendant’s dependents

At defendant's request at enforcement Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing No

Modification of the amount, time or method of payment of restitution; remission from any payment of restitution or modify the amount, time or method of payment.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 27A Removing or Concealing Motor Vehicles or Trailers to Defraud Insurers; Reimbursement of Insurers.

If a defendant who is required to make restitution defaults in any payment of restitution or installment thereof, the court shall hold him in contempt unless said defendant has made

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a good faith effort to pay such restitution. If said defendant has made a good faith effort to pay such restitution, the court may modify the amount, time or method of payment, but may not grant complete remission from payment of restitution.

All

N/A

At enforcement of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing No

modify the amount, time or method of payment, but may not grant complete remission from payment of restitution.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 269, § 14(d) False Reports Relative to Location of Explosives, etc., Penalized.

. . . A person found guilty of violating this section shall, in all cases, in addition to any other punishment, be ordered to make restitution to the individual, public

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or private entity for any costs incurred, damages and financial loss sustained as a result of the commission of the crime. Restitution shall be imposed in addition to incarceration or fine, and not in lieu thereof, however, the court shall consider the defendant’s present and future ability to pay in its determinations regarding a fine. In determining the amount, time and method of payment of restitution, the court shall consider the financial resources of the defendant and the burden restitution will impose on the defendant.

Felony

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge without hearing Yes

N/A

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 269, § 14B(b) Willful and malicious communication of false information to public safety answering points; penalty

Upon any conviction under this section, the court shall conduct a hearing to ascertain the extent of costs incurred, and damages and financial loss sustained by any emergency response services

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provider as a result of the violation and shall order the defendant to make restitution to the emergency response services provider or providers for any such costs, damages or loss. The court shall consider the defendant’s present and future ability to pay restitution in its determinations relative to the imposition of a fine. In determining the amount, time and method of payment of restitution, the court shall consider the defendant’s employment status, earning ability, financial resources, living expenses, dependents and any special circumstances that may have bearing on their ability to pay. The court may waive restitution or modify the amount, time or method of payment if such restitution payment would cause a substantial financial hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s immediate family or the defendant’s dependents.

 

Felony

A substantial financial hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s immediate family or the defendant’s dependents.

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Determined by judge after hearing Yes

Waive restitution or modify the amount, time or method of payment if such restitution payment

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 29 Theft of Motor Vehicle; Owner’s Complaint or Information; Restitution by Defendants.

Restitution shall be imposed in addition to incarceration or fine, and not in lieu thereof; provided, however, the court shall consider the defendant’s present and future ability to pay in

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its determinations regarding a fine; provided, further, that, whenever possible subject to the constraints of this paragraph and the first paragraph of said subsection (a) of section twenty–eight, the amount of a fine imposed for a violation of said subsection (a) of section twenty–eight shall equal twice the amount of damages or financial loss suffered as a result of the defendant’s crime.

Felony

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Not provided for Yes

N/A

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 29 Theft of Motor Vehicle; Owner’s Complaint or Information; Restitution by Defendants.

In determining the amount, time and method of payment of restitution, the court shall consider the financial resources of the defendant and the burden restitution will impose on the defendant.

Felony

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Not provided for Yes

N/A

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 29 Theft of Motor Vehicle; Owner’s Complaint or Information; Restitution by Defendants.

Upon a real or impending change in financial circumstances, a defendant ordered to pay restitution may petition the court for a modification of the amount, time or method of payment

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of restitution. If the court finds that because of any such change the payment of restitution will cause a substantial financial hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s immediate family or the defendant’s dependents, the court may grant remission from any payment of restitution or modify the amount, time or method of payment.

Felony

A substantial financial hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s immediate family or the defendant’s dependents

At defendant's request at enforcement Not provided for Not provided for No

Court may modify amount, time or method of payment but not grant complete remission.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 273, § 15A(5) Child Born Out of Wedlock — Penalties; Fines; Alternative Sentencing; Restitution.

In a prosecution under this chapter the defendant may be ordered to make restitution to the spouse or the custodial parent or to the person or agency, including the department

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of public welfare, who is supporting or has supported the spouse or child for all sums expended on behalf of such spouse or child, provided that if the defendant establishes a lesser ability to have provided support, the amount of any liability imposed by this section shall be consistent with the defendant’s prior ability to have paid support.

All

Not provided for 

Before imposition of fine or fee Burden on defendant to show inability to pay Not provided for Yes

Liability imposed consistent with defendant's prior ability to have paid support.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 24D Drivers Convicted of Operating Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquors or Controlled Substances.

Each person placed in a program of driver alcohol or controlled substance abuse education and, if deemed necessary by the court, a program of alcohol or controlled substance abuse treatment,

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rehabilitation, or alcohol or controlled substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation pursuant to this section shall pay directly to such program a fee in an amount to be determined by the department of public health . . . No person may be excluded from said program for inability to pay the stated fee, provided that such person files an affidavit of indigency or inability to pay with the court within ten days of the date of disposition, that investigation by the probation officer confirms such indigency or establishes that the payment of such fee would cause a grave and serious hardship to such individual or to the family of such individual, and that the court enters a written finding thereof. In lieu of waiver of the entire amount of said fee, the court may direct such individual to make partial or installment payments of such fee when appropriate. Subject to appropriation, the department of public health shall reimburse each program for the costs of services provided to persons for whom payment of a fee has been waived on the grounds of indigency.

Traffic

Indigency; payment of such fee would cause a grave and serious hardship to such individual or to the family of such individual.

At defendant's request before imposition of fine or fee Burden on defendant to show inability to pay Determined by judge without hearing Yes

Waiver, partial or installment payments of fee.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90B, § 8(3)(B) Operation of Vessel Under Influence of Liquor or Drugs; Water Skiing; Reckless Operation

The defendant shall pay for the cost of the services provided by the boating safety education course, the alcohol education or rehabilitation program, and the residential alcohol treatment program; however,

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no person shall be excluded from said programs for inability to pay, provided that such person files an affidavit of indigency or inability to pay with the court, that investigation by the probation officer confirms such indigency or establishes that the payment of such fee would cause a grave and serious hardship to such individual or to the family of such individual, and that the court enters a written finding thereof. In lieu of waiver of the entire amount of said fee, the court may direct such individual to make partial or installment payments of the cost of said program.

Traffic

Cause a grave and serious hardship to such individual or to the family

At defendant's request before imposition of fine or fee Burden on defendant to show inability to pay Determined by judge without hearing Yes

Waiver, partial or installment payments of fee.

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Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 102D Explosive or Destructive or Incendiary Device — Seizure; Restitution.

A person found guilty of violating sections 102 to 102C, inclusive, shall, in all cases, in addition to any other punishment, be ordered to make restitution to the local, county

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or state government for any costs incurred, damages and financial loss sustained as a result of the commission of such offense. Restitution shall be imposed in addition to incarceration or fine; provided, however, that the court shall consider the defendant’s present and future ability to pay in its determinations regarding a fine. In determining the amount, time and method of payment of restitution, the court shall consider the financial resources of the defendant and the burden restitution will impose on the defendant.

Felony

Not provided for

Before imposition of fine or fee Not provided for Not provided for Yes

N/A