In Queensland, a court has the power to order that an offender pay a fine as part or all of a penalty for a sentence. A court is restricted by how much they may fine an offender. The maximum fine available for an offence will be contained within the offence provision. The court will order you pay the given fine within a certain period of time.

Section 45 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 grants the Court power to impose a fine on an offender and it states:

  • An offender may be fined.
  • The fine may be in addition to, or instead of, any other sentence to which the offender is liable.
  • The maximum fine that a court may impose is –
    • The appropriate maximum applicable to the offence under a provision of this or another Act relating to the offence; or
    • If there is no maximum – the maximum mentioned in section 45.

Is a Fine a Criminal Conviction?

A fine does not automatically mean you have a criminal conviction. Section 44 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 states that a court may impose a fine whether or not it records a conviction.

What Happens if I can’t Pay the Fine?

If you are required to pay a fine, a court will usually state how the fine is to be paid when you are sentenced. For example, a court could order that an offender pay a fine within a certain period of time and if an offender fails to do so, they could be sent to jail. Alternatively, the court could refer your fine to the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry (SPER).

Alternatively, if you are unable to pay the fine, the court will send a notice to SPER. They are able to assist you with an instalment plan, deductions from your Centrelink payments or a fine option order which allows you to do community service instead of paying.


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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