Financial penalty

A Court may choose to order that the offender pay a fine.

Financial Penalty – The Legislation:

s. 49 The Sentencing Act – Power to fine

(1)        If a person is found guilty of an offence the court may, subject to any specific provision relating to the offence, fine the offender in addition to or instead of any other sentence to which the offender may be liable.

(2)      The maximum fine that a court may impose under subsection (1) is the appropriate maximum specified in the specific provision or, if no maximum is specified there, then that specified in section 52.

The amount of the fine will depend on:

  • the nature of the charge;
  • the statutory maximum penalty;
  • the assets/income of the offender; and
  • the prior history of the offender.

Some offences, e.g. possession of a small quantity of cannabis, are fine only offences in that the Court cannot sentence the offender to anything harsher than a fine.

Some offences have a statutory maximum, in that the Court only has the power to order a fine up to a certain amount. The statutory maximum is set out per penalty unit. The amount of a penalty unit changes over time.

Currently in Victoria one penalty unit is equal to $144.36 (as of 20 March 2014)

If an offender is sentenced to a fine the offender may also choose to convert the fine to unpaid community work.

This sentencing disposition can be made with or without a conviction (see Conviction v Non Conviction).