This chapter explains:
A fine is an amount of money that you can be ordered to pay as a penalty for breaking the law. You can also be ordered to pay court costs and other fees.
There are two ways that you can receive a fine through the court system:
Unpaid infringement notices – Infringement notices are issued by the police, government agencies or local councils for offences such as parking violations, speeding, failing to display a warrant of fitness or vehicle registration, littering, or breaching dog bylaws. If you don’t pay an infringement notice by its due date, it is lodged with the courts. The courts then enforce it as if it had been imposed by a judge in the first place.
Note: A fee of $30.67 is added to the amount of the unpaid infringement notice when it’s lodged with the courts.
The collection and enforcement of fines is managed by Collections Units, which are part of the Ministry of Justice. There are Collections Units in most District Courts (usually in the main population areas). Collections Unit staff are called Collections Officers or bailiffs. Where there is not a specific Collections Unit, fines are collected and enforced by the local District Court staff.
When setting a fine, a judge must take into account the defendant’s financial capacity. The judge may require the defendant to make a “declaration as to financial capacity”, giving information on their income, assets, liabilities and outgoings. A judge may require the defendant to stay at court for up to two hours to complete this declaration.
If the judge considers that the defendant can’t afford to pay a fine, then the judge may sentence the defendant to a community-based sentence – most commonly community work. A sentence of community work must be between 40 and 400 hours. A court can also allow payment in instalments.
No. A fine is a punishment for breaking the law and it is paid to the court.
Reparation is paid to a victim of a crime as compensation for things like damage to property or emotional harm. An offender can be sentenced to pay both a fine and reparation. If they can’t afford both, the judge must order reparation only, and may order lesser reparations or payments in instalments.
The amount of reparation ordered is usually based on information about the amount of damage, the costs to the victim and the offender’s ability to pay.
The offender levy is a fee of $50 that everyone sentenced in the District or High Court must pay. This does not include people who receive infringement notices that become court fines.