Are you facing a Court fine?
Has a fine been imposed already?
Many offences on the statute books carry a fine and/or prison as the penalty on conviction. For example, take the offence of careless driving.
The offence is now set out in the Road Traffic (No. 2) Act, 2011:
52.— (1) A person shall not drive a vehicle in a public place without due care and attention.
(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and—
(a) in case the contravention causes death or serious bodily harm to another person, he or she is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or to both, and
(b) in any other case, he or she is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.
You will see that the penalty for summary conviction in the District Court is a class A fine.
Dangerous driving carries a penalty in the District Court of a class A fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
What is a class A fine?
Section 3 Fines Act 2010 defines the various classes of fine as follows:
“class A fine” means a fine not exceeding €5,000;
“class B fine” means a fine not exceeding €4,000;
“class C fine” means a fine not exceeding €2,500;
“class D fine” means a fine not exceeding €1,000;
“class E fine” means a fine not exceeding €500;
Therefore any time you see a criminal offence carrying a penalty on conviction ranging from class A to class E fine you will see from the above what the maximum fine can be.
Generally, it is a rare occasion when a Judge will impose the maximum fine.
Payment of Fines
Section 14 of the Fines Act, 2010 provides that a person’s financial circumstances must be taken into account by a Court on conviction.
Section 15 of the act allows for payment of the fine by instalments, if the Court so directs.
Section 16 of the Fines Act 2010 allows the Court to appoint a receiver to collect unpaid fines, and section 18 allows for a community service order to be made if the receiver cannot collect the fine, while section 19 provides for imprisonment for failing to pay a fine.
Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014
The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 came into effect in January, 2016. The purpose of this act is to try to eliminate the imprisonment of persons for non payment of fines.
This act provides:
- Fines being set which takes the person’s financial circumstances into account (section 5)
- All fines over €100 can be paid by instalments (section 6)
- Attachment of earnings orders where the person does not pay the fine (section 14)
- Where the fine is in excess of €500 the Court can make a recovery order (section 8) or community service order (section 19)
- Imprisonment will only apply where it is not appropriate to make an Attachment order, Recovery order, or community service order.
You can now pay a Court fine at your local post office, and use your credit card if you wish, and pay by instalment if the fine is over €100.
You can still be jailed for failing to pay a fine, but this will only be a last resort as the purpose of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 is to reduce the number of people going to prison for non payment.