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Fine Enforcement (ACT)

A person defaults on a fine if they fail to pay the fine in full by the date that payment is required. Failure to pay a fine may lead to several different types of enforcement action depending on the situation. This page outlines the types of fine enforcement action that can be taken in the ACT under the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005.

Default notice

If a person has failed to pay a fine in the ACT, the following must occur before enforcement action can start:

  • They must be sent a default notice and a reminder notice
  • They have failed to pay the fine 28 days after the default notice was sent

Financial circumstances

The fine defaulter may be required to produce information about their financial circumstances. This will include any income and assets they have and any other financial resources they have access to. They may also be required to attend a hearing to answer questions and produce information about their financial situation.

Fine enforcement orders

The director-general may apply to the court for a fine enforcement order if they consider it would not be unfair or cause undue hardship.

The application must set out the reasons that the order is sought as well as the details of the offence for which the fine was imposed and the steps that have been taken to tell the fine defaulter about the default, as well as information about their financial circumstances if this is available.

The court may makethe following orders.

Earnings redirections order

An earnings redirection order can be made requiring a fine defaulter’s employer to deduct an amount from their salary or wages and pay it to the registrar. This order may also be made in respect of money payable under a contract for services.

Financial institution deduction orders

An order can be made requiring a financial institution to deduct an amount from the fine defaulter’s account and pay it.

Property seizure orders

An order can be made for the seizure of the fine defaulter’s property. This order empowers the director-general to enter premises, seize personal property that belongs to the fine defaulter and is not clothing or other necessities, and sell as much of the property as necessary to cover the outstanding fine,

Under section 116ZD of the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005, a person may apply for the return of property seized under an order and it may be returned if not returning it would cause undue hardship or unfairness.

Voluntary community work orders

Under section 116ZE of the Crimes (Sentencing Administration) Act 2005, the director-general can also seek an order from a court that the fine defaulter perform community work to discharge an outstanding fine.

The court may make this order if the person agrees to it.

If the outstanding amount includes a reparation order, a community work order can be made if the party in whose favour the reparations order was made agrees to this and the court considers that is is appropriate.

A person who carries out community work in lieu of paying a fine will have their fine paid off at a rate of $37.50 per hour worked.

If the community work order is completed, the fine will be discharged. If the order is not complied with, it may be canceled or varied.

Imprisonment orders

Under section 116ZK of the Crimes (Sentences Administration) Act 2005, a court may order a fine defaulter to be imprisoned if:

  • all appropriate enforcement action has been taken and there is no real likelihood of the fine being paid; and
  • the fine has not been remitted

An adult will be imprisoned for one day for every $300 outstanding on the fine, or for six months (whichever is lesser).

A young person under 18 will be imprisoned for one day for every $500 outstanding on the fine, or for seven days (which is lesser).

Remission of fine

A person may be granted a remission of a fine if the director-general is satisfied that:

  • a fine enforcement order would not be effective; and
  • a voluntary community work order is not possible or appropriate; and
  • it is appropriate to remit the fine.

In deciding whether to remit a fine, the director-general will consider the person’s financial circumstances, the offence, the amount of the fine, whether the person has other outstanding fines and anything the person has done to frustrate or avoid the making of a fine enforcement order or a voluntary community work order.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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