COURT IMPOSED FINES EXPLAINED BY COASTAL LAWYERS…
If you have pleaded guilty to a criminal or traffic offence or if you have been found guilty of an offence then a Magistrate (if you are in the Local Court) or a Judge (if you are in the District Court) will need to sentence you.
A number of sentence options are available to a court when dealing with a person before them (known as the offender at the time of sentencing).
The most common penalty imposed by NSW courts is a fine.
In this blog post, we discuss court-imposed fines. Fines can also be imposed by local councils and other government organisations as well.
THE LEGISLATION (LAW):
The two main pieces of legislation (the law) that you need to be aware of when it comes to fines are the:
Crimes (Sentencing) Procedure Act 1999; and
Fines Act 1996
HOW MUCH WILL MY FINE BE?
Each offence has a penalty unit attached to it. A penalty unit is equal to $110. For example, if you see an offence is 5 penalty units (pu), the maximum fine a court can sentence you too is $550.
A Coastal Tip: You can find out the penalty for most criminal offences on the Law Part Codes website.
WHAT IF I CAN’T PAY A FINE?
The court is required to take into account your ability to pay a fine when setting the amount (section 6 of the Fines Act). If you can’t pay a fine, the court may impose an alternative penalty such as a community service order.
HOW LONG WILL I BE GIVEN TO PAY A FINE?
The Court will order that you pay the fine within 28 days (section 5 of the Fines Act).
If you don’t pay your fine within 28 days, you will be charged an additional $65 fee by Revenue NSW.
A Coastal Tip: If you can’t pay the full amount of your fine within 28 days, it is important to seek an extension or ask to pay by instalments to avoid any additional charges. You can find the ‘Application for Time to Pay Court Fines’ in the local Court here.
HOW DO I PAY MY FINE?
You will usually be sent a penalty notice in the mail which you can pay online (or via credit card or EFTPOS at the court).
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DON’T PAY MY FINE?
Many people don’t fully appreciate the range of consequences which flow from failing to pay a fine. Some of the consequences include:
The fine can increase with additional charges for late payment
Your licence can be suspended
A sheriff can be sent to your house to take property in payment of the fine
Your bank account can be garnished (money is taken out to pay for the fine)
You may be ordered to undertake community service.
WORK AND DEVELOPMENT ORDERS
If you cannot pay your fine, you may be eligible to make an application for a Work and Development Order (WDO) through Revenue NSW. To be eligible for a Work and Development Order, you must meet one of the criteria:
Have a mental illness;
Have an intellectual or cognitive disability
Have a series addiction or
Be facing serious financial hardship.
If you are eligible for a Work and Development order, you will generally be entitled to undertake courses, counselling and/or community service to pay off your fine.
IS A FINE A CONVICTION?
Yes. If you go before the Court and receive a fine this is a criminal conviction. Criminal convictions can have an effect on your future and therefore it is crucial to obtain legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer prior to going to Court.
DO YOU NEED A CRIMINAL LAWYER ON THE CENTRAL COAST?
If you are going to court (even if you think you will ‘only get a fine’) you need a Central Coast Criminal Lawyer to help you.
Coastal Lawyers will provide you with simple language legal advice and set out your options prior to going to Court so you an informed.
DISLAIMER (BECAUSE WOULD WE EVEN BE LAWYERS WITHOUT ONE):
The information contained in this legal resource is information only. It is not a substitute for your own research and/or legal advice. If you need legal advice, then you can book an obligation free appointment with Coastal Lawyers online.