The third most severe sentence available for Commonwealth offences is a fine under section 4B of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

The Amount of a Fine

An offence under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) specifies the amount a person can be fined using a penalty unit system. For example, an offence may be punishable by ’10 penalty units’.

A ‘penalty unit’ means:

  • $210 for offences committed in or after 2017;[1]
  • $180 for offences committed between 31 July 2015 and 30 June 2017;
  • $170 for offences committed between 28 December 2012 and 30 July 2015;[2] and
  • $110 for offences committed between 7 April 1997 and 27 December 2012.

Taking the above example, an offence punishable by 10 penalty units that is committed on or after 2017 is punishable by a $2,100 fine.

Imprisonment Converted to Fine

Sometimes, an offence will not specify a maximum fine. If an offence is punishable by imprisonment, the court may impose a fine. In these circumstances, the maximum fine will be a penalty unit value equal to the maximum term of imprisonment multiplied by 5.[3] For example, if an offence has a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, then the maximum fine that could be imposed is 50 penalty units.

Financial Circumstances of an Offender

The court must consider someone’s financial circumstances before sentencing them to a fine.[4]

[1] S 4AAA Crimes Act 1914 (Vic)
[2] Section 3 and Schedule 3 to Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious Drugs, Identity Crime and Other Measures) Act No.167 of 2012. Section 2 to Crimes Legislation Amendment (Penalty Unit) Act 2015
[3] S 4B Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)
[4] S 16A(2)(m) Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)