Skip to Content

Ability to Pay

How do indigency issues affect justice courts?

texas graphic filled with houses

Who is below the poverty line?

In 2014, 47 million Americans.

29% of all disabled Americans.

15 million American children, more than 1 in every 5 kids.

17.2% of Texans are below the poverty line, making indigency a major issue for justice courts.

Indigency issues affect how we process our cases and the role of the court in the community.

The Training Center is committed to providing resources to justice courts concerning indigency. Click below for more information.

Fast Facts: Criminal Cases

  • Indigent Defendants must be allowed the opportunity to perform community service.
  • Defendants who are unable to pay must be given payment plans.
  • Orders of Commitment may NEVER issue unless written determinations have been made regarding indigence and community service.
    • Capias Pro Fines do NOT authorize defendants to lay out fines in jail.
  • Consider issues of indigency when placing defendants on deferred disposition or imposing bond conditions.
  • Defendants can present information to courts for waiver of DPS surcharges.
  • Fines and costs must be waived if defendants can't pay and community service is an undue hardship.

Fast Facts: Civil Cases

  • On August 31, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court released the final edits to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the final version of their proposed Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs. Justice courts now must make this form available to all litigants, without charge or the necessity of a request. Justice courts must use this form, or a form that has all of the information contained in it. Click here for the form.

Fast Facts: Truancy Cases

  • No imposition of any costs without determination of ability to pay.
  • Craft appropriate remedial orders for parents and students. 
  • Work with schools to help keep impoverished children in schools.

Training Opportunities

20-Hour Seminar Courses

  • "Indigency: Getting It Right" will be a two hour general session course at all Justice of the Peace 20-Hour Seminars.

Optional Courses

  • Noncompliant Criminal Defendants: Solutions & Safeguards
  • Magistrate Duties: the 15.17 Hearing
  • Trucks, Texting, and Traffic Topics
  • Truancy: Where Are We Know?


2016-2017 Workshops

  • . March 20-21st- Criminal Procedure: Traffic


2016-2017 Webinars

  • Wednesday, March 15th- Enforcing Criminal Judgments

Click here to register for these events.


Inability to Pay Forms

Plea and Affidavit of Indigency

Affidavit of Indigency- Financial Inability to Post Bond or Pay Fine

Findings of the Court at Indigency Hearing


In Texas, It's a Crime to Be Poor- Buzzfeed

Texas Proposes Tweaks to Court Rules to Protect the Poor- Buzzfeed



Poor Kids- Documentary by PBS Frontline

What's Life LIke at the Poverty Line? - Poverty USA video