If the sheriff cannot collect unpaid fines, a warrant can issue for the arrest of the accused.
The accused is either:
- Released on bail by the Sheriff at their office and bailed to appear at a particular time, at a particular court; or
- Taken into custody and taken to court and then usually released on bail from the court to attend back at the court at a particular time, at a particular court.
The Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) sets out the powers of the Magistrates’ Court in section 165. The Court can order jail, however if the Court is satisfied that:
(a) The infringement offender has a material mental or intellectual impairment, disorder, disease or illness; or
(b) Special circumstances apply; or
(c) Having regard to the infringement offender’s situation, imprisonment would be excessive, disproportionate or unduly harsh; or
(d) The infringement offender is a victim of family violence that substantially contributed to the person being unable to control the conduct which constituted the offending
The Court may:
(a) Discharge in full any relevant infringement fine; or
(b) Discharge in part any relevant infringement fine; or
(c) Discharge in part any relevant infringement fine and order that the infringement offender be imprisoned for a fixed term; or
(d) Make an unpaid community work order; or
(e) Adjourn the matter for up to six months.
Section 3 of the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) defines special circumstances as a mental or intellectual disability, disorder, disease or illness where the disability, disorder, disease or illness results in a person being unable to understand that the conduct constitutes an offence, or to control conduct that constitutes an offence.
A serious addiction to drugs, alcohol etc can result in a person being unable to understand that conduct constitutes an offence or to control conduct which constitutes an offence. Homelessness can have the same effect.
What is needed for court
For issues to do with mental or intellectual problems, the court requires a report from a person who is qualified to make such findings, for example:
(1) Major Depressive Disorder
(2) Generalized Anxiety Disorder
(3) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Further, an attempt to make some payment is also very helpful. And copies of any income documents and expense documents is usually required.
If you have problems with unpaid toll fines, contact me for a free first consultation using the details below.