Section 49 of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) contains the power for a Magistrate or Judge to impose fines.
Fines imposed for a criminal offence can be made with or without conviction. The maximum fine a Magistrate or Judge can impose is defined by the particular criminal offence in question.
For example, the offence of breaching a Family Violence Intervention Order under section 123 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) prescribes a penalty of 2 years imprisonment or a maximum of 240 penalty units. The value of a penalty unit at July 2014 was $147.61. The governing legislation for the calculation of penalty units is the Monetary Units Act 2004. It is a well accepted rule of statutory interpretation that the fine prescribed for a particular criminal offence is the maximum available.
Fines can also be imposed for offences without the necessity to appear in court and the following offences attract “on the spot” fines:
- careless driving
- indecent language
- offensive behaviour
- consuming or supplying liquor on unlicensed premises
- failure to leave licensed premises when requested
- shop theft of goods worth up to $600
- wilful damage to property of up to $500
- entering a licensed premises contrary to a ban
- public drunkenness (drunk and disorderly)
You do not have to accept that you are guilty just because you have been given a fine. Please contact us to discuss if you have doubts about whether you are guilty of any offence.
If a Magistrate or Judge is considering a fine as the appropriate penalty, they must have regard to your financial circumstances and the burden that its payment will impose (see Section 50 of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic). Depending upon the amount of the fines, the Court will allow a period of 1 month for payment of the fine. The Court can grant a longer period and has the power to grant payment by way of instalments.
You may also convert fines into hours of unpaid community work.
For a practical illustration of these principles, please refer to our case studies. Each case study describes the particular court hearing (plea of guilty, contested hearing, trial), the particular criminal offences that were the subject of the hearing, and the court outcome.
Below you will find some of the criminal cases we’ve defended in Victorian courts that resulted in a fine: