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Glossary

agency

the organisation that issued you the fine

attachment of earnings order

when the court asks your employer to take the money from your wages to pay your fine

bail

a promise to attend at court on a particular day

community work order

an order of the court to do unpaid community work or attend an educational program instead of paying your fines

community work permit

an agreement with the sheriff to do unpaid community work

court fine

a fine imposed by a court on an offender

Director of Fines Victoria

a person who makes decisions about fines registered with Fines Victoria

discharge

when the magistrate finds you guilty of committing an offence, but decides you do not have to pay the fine, also called dismissal

enforcement order

a written document made by a court that says you must follow an order

fine

in this booklet, a fine means an infringement notice

Fines Victoria

an administrative body that will replace the Infringements Court once the new laws start

infringement notice

a written document that tells you that you have to pay the fine. The prosecuting agency sends this out

infringements registrar

a person who makes decisions about fines at the Infringements Court

infringement warrant

a court document that allows a sheriff to take certain actions

instalment

a payment that is made regularly until your fine is paid off

judicial registrar

a person who makes decisions about some civil matters and less serious criminal matters at the Magistrates’ Court

magistrate

a person who makes decisions in the Magistrates’ Court

oral examination

when you are questioned under oath by the infringements registrar about your financial position

revoke

to cancel an (enforcement) order

sanctions

a range of penalties for people who do not pay their fines

special circumstances

if you find it difficult to avoid getting fines because of a mental illness, intellectual disability, drug addiction or homelessness

summons

a court document that tells you when you must go to court

What happens if I get a fine?

If you are fined you will get an infringement notice that tells you:
• what law you have broken
• how much you have to pay
• when you have to pay the fine.

You usually have 28 days to take action. You have a few options to deal with your fine.

You can:
• pay the fine in full – follow the instructions on the infringement notice
• for a driving offence when you were not driving, nominate the driver – give the agency their name and address. If you can, give the agency the person’s licence number or date of birth
• ask the agency for a payment plan if you need more time to pay
• ask the agency to review your fine
• choose to go to the Magistrates’ Court.

If you do nothing, you will get a penalty reminder notice. This gives you more time to work out what to do, but more costs are added to the original fine.

If you still do nothing, your fine will be sent to the Infringements Court.

What if I cannot pay the fine on time?

If you cannot pay on time ask the agency that fined you for a payment plan.
A payment plan is where you can:
• get more time to pay the fine
• pay the fine off in more than one payment over time.

This is called paying by instalment. Ring the agency that sent you the fine to find out how to start a payment plan. You may need to fill out a form. If the agency agrees to a payment plan, you need to stick to it. If not, the agency will take action to get the money

What happens at the Infringements Court?

If the agency sends your fine to the Infringements Court you will get an enforcement order. The order should explain your options. If you pay the amount on the order by the new due date there is no further action. If you cannot afford to pay, ask the court for a payment order. You can apply in person or in writing. A payment order is where you can:

• get more time to pay the fine
• pay the fine off by instalments
• remove the added costs if you can explain why you did not respond to the fine earlier.
If the infringements registrar needs more information about your financial situation, they can serve you with a summons to attend the Infringements Court. This process is called a summons for oral examination. It helps the registrar work out the best way for you to pay your fine. If you do not attend, the registrar can issue a warrant for your arrest.
You can also ask the court to revoke (cancel) your enforcement order if you:
• disagree with the fine
• think you should pay the amount on the original fine and not the extra costs
• have special circumstances that apply to you.

If you do not take any action on the enforcement order, the infringements registrar will issue an infringement warrant.

What happens at the Magistrates’ Court?

This depends on which stage you are at. If you have chosen to go to court early this means you get to tell your side of the story to a magistrate or a judicial registrar.

They then make a decision about what you must do. The magistrate or the judicial registrar can decide to:

• cancel the fine
• take away the extra costs
• order you to pay a smaller fine.

However, the magistrate can also decide to:
• give you a larger fine
• make you pay for the court costs
• cancel or suspend your driver’s licence
• record a conviction against your name.

If you have to pay, you can ask for the amount you owe to be converted to a community work order. Ask for the court registrar at the Magistrates’ Court to apply. You must agree to the conditions of the order. You must also have enough free time to do the community work. If you are found guilty of a non-traffic related offence, it will appear on a Victorian Police criminal record check. If you are at the Magistrates’ Court after an infringement warrant was made because you did not pay, the magistrate can send you to jail, as well as what is listed above.

appeal

a procedure that allows a party to challenge the decision made by a court

apprehend

under mental health laws, a police officer can ‘apprehend’ you if they believe you have a mental illness and may do serious harm to yourself or another person in the near future. This means they can hold you and you are not free to go

arrest

when the police hold you in custody because they think you have broken the law

bail

a promise that you will go to court to face charges on a certain date. You may have to agree to conditions like reporting to the police or living at a certain place while you are on bail

bail justice

a person who comes to the police station and can give you bail or refuse you bail

breach

to break a law or court order. This is the same thing as ‘contravening’ a court order

charge

this term is used two ways. Firstly, it is an action the police can take. When the police charge you with an offence, this means they believe you have broken the law and are taking you to court. Secondly, once the police have charged you with committing an offence, the offence is also referred to as the charge

charge sheet

a document that lists all the offences the police have charged you with. The charge sheet can have more than one offence if the police think that you have broken more than one law

reasonable

police can only do something, such as using force, if it is reasonable (not too much for the circumstances). The police may have to explain to a court why their action was reasonable. You may also have a reasonable belief that you did not know you were doing something wrong. You may need to explain why this is a reasonable belief

statement

a written document of what you say happened

subpoena

a document that says you must go to court or give certain documents to the court

summary offence

a minor offence that is usually heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the Children’s Court without a jury

summons

a court document that tells you when and where you must go to court

surety

a person who gives some money to the court to make sure that you turn up to court. If you do not, they will usually lose that money