Fines

What is a fine?

A fine is a type of sentence which can be imposed as a punishment for a criminal offence.

It can be imposed on its own or along with another type of sentence eg community order.

How is a fine calculated?

  1. The court will look at the sentencing guidelines for the specific offence and consider any factors that make the offence more or less serious.
  2. There are bands A to F. Band A is the lowest band and band F is the highest and there are ranges with in each band, to take into account things that may make the offence more or less serious. For example, for a speeding offence the more a person is over the speed limit will make it more serious and if the speeding was near a school.
  3. The band represents a percentage of an offender’s relevant weekly income that should be imposed as a fine.
  4. This is calculated and if the defendant pleaded guilty the amount of fine is discounted to give credit for the guilty plea.

Why is relevant weekly income used?

Relevant weekly income is used so as the punishment to offenders is comparable even though their circumstances may be different. If everyone received the same fine it would mean the impact could be greater or lesser for the same offence because individuals have different incomes.

  • Offender A pleads guilty to an offence of speeding.
  • The sentencing guideline for the speed is a band A fine. This is a range of 25%- 75% of the defendant’s relevant weekly income.
  • The court decides the right percentage in this case is 50% of the relevant weekly income.
  • The offender relevant weekly income is £300 per week.
  • The fine is therefore £150.
  • The offender pleaded guilty the first time they came to court for this offence and therefore receives credit for this of a third reduction of their fine.
  • The offender is fined £100.
  • Offender B pleads guilty to an offence of speeding.
  • The sentencing guideline for the speed is a band A fine. This is a range of 25%- 75% of the defendant’s relevant weekly income.
  • The court decides the right percentage in this case is 50% of the relevant weekly income.
  • The offender relevant weekly income is £600 per week.
  • The fine is therefore £300.
  • The offender pleaded guilty the first time they came to court for this offence and therefore receives credit for this of a third reduction of their fine.
  • The offender is fined £200.

How is a relevant weekly income calculated?

  • Income that is more than £120 per week after tax (or equivalent where the offender is self-employed), the actual income is the relevant weekly income.
  • Income that is £120 per week or less, the relevant weekly income is deemed to be £120.
  • If no reliable information is provided then an assumed income of £440 is used. This can be altered if there is some information to suggest the income is lower or higher.

 

Obtaining financial information

It is for the offender to provide this information and this is usually done by completing a statement of means form.

How can a fine been paid?

A fine is due in full on the day it is imposed. Where this is not possible the Court may allow an offender time to pay or to pay in instalments.

The court accepts the following payment methods:

  • Cash
  • Cheque
  • Bank transfer

What happens if a fine is not paid?

If a fine is not paid the Court can take enforcement action which can include:

  • Summons to court for non-payment
  • Distress warrant for bailiffs to enter your property and remove goods to the value of the debt
  • Attachment of earnings order, which means the amount is deducted from your pay before you receive it
  • Imprisonment

 

For further information please see the Overarching Sentencing Guideline information O.S.G - 3. Financial Penalties