Even if you intend to appeal a conviction or sentence you must let the Court know what your intentions are before you miss court fine payments. If you don’t, the Court will more than likely force you to pay by issuing you with an unpaid court fines warrant.
If you receive an unpaid court fines warrant and ignore that too, the Court will escalate the case with the issue of a Distress Warrant. By doing so, the Court can enforce the payment of Magistrates’ Court fines by various means at its disposal.
These can include:
- An enforcement order to take money directly from your wages or benefits
- The issue of a Warrant of Control to an out-sourced bailiff company
- The registration of the fine (adding the fine to your credit history for five years)
- An order to clamp your vehicle with a view to the court selling it
In response to the most serious cases of non-payment, the Court can issue an arrest warrant with a view to punishing you further for your missed court fine payment.
How do you pay a fine?
Following your conviction for an offence the judge will sentence you with a fine and tell you how and when it should be paid. They will levy the amount to suit your financial situation and will have based their decision on the declaration of your financial status.
It’s important to clearly and honestly state how financially buoyant you are (or, as the case may be are not) because the judge takes this into account when deciding both the amount of the Magistrates’ Court fine and the length of time it requires to be paid.
The Court will hear any concerns you may have about payments and then outline their expectations of the rate of repayment.
- The judge sentences you to be fined
- The court makes a collection order detailing how the fine is to be paid
- The details are sent to you after the case is closed
- You are offered the chance to pay in instalments or you may be ordered to pay an amount within 10 days. The order will also include details of how to pay.
The ‘Notice of Fine’ which is sent to you following the hearing outlines how and where you can pay. Usually you are permitted to pay by credit or debit card, at a Post Office or by Direct Debit.
If it’s easier for you, you can pay your court fine through the GOV.UK website.
If you accept the fine but make a reasonable plea for a reduction in instalments, or you state that you aren’t able to pay the fine in full then a more suitable way to pay will be offered.
If you disagree with the fine then you will want to dispute the case. If you consider the fine to be unlawful or have no way of fulfilling the expectations of the Court you should contact Leslie Franks for advice on your next step. It will benefit your case not to have a missed court fine payment against your name.
With being a highly successful company of criminal defence solicitors we are hot-wired to resolve such situations. Our advice is free and impartial and if you so wish you can be represented in court by one of our fully-qualified solicitors.
What if I can’t afford the fine?
Trying to get blood out of a stone isn’t possible. Nor is it possible for a Court to extract money from someone who has none. If you cannot afford the Magistrates’ Court fine there are avenues open to you but also certain ways to properly address this problem with the court.
If, after your hearing you realise that you can’t even pay a Magistrates’ Court fine by instalments, the first thing you must do is contact the sentencing court’s fines officer. You need to do this before your first payment is due.
If you default with a missed court fine payment you could end up with an unpaid court fines warrant.
You will be asked to explain your reason for being unable to pay the amount specified. The fines officer will either reject your plea or begin the process of having your circumstances re-assessed.
If the Court looks again at your financial circumstances it will want to see evidence of your income, outgoings and savings.
Leslie Franks can help you put together a budget and if need be present your concerns to the court and may be able to help to have the fine written off.
What is a fine ‘remittal’?
To ‘remit’ a Court fine is to have it wiped out or cancelled by the discretion of the judge presiding on your case. The details of the case and your ability to pay will determine the decision of the Court.
Legislation in England Wales states that: “Where a fine has been imposed on conviction of an offender by a magistrates’ court, the court may at any time remit the whole or any part of the fine, but only if it thinks it just to do so having regard to a change of circumstances which has occurred” (Magistrates Court Act, 1980).
In what circumstances may a fine be remitted?
Leslie Franks solicitors comprise a team of highly experienced defence solicitors. We look at all aspects of a case to be presented to the Court within the Magistrates’ Court appeal process. We have already been able to remit thousands of pounds worth of fines by using various pieces of legislation and our industry-leading know-how.
If there is a way to remit a fine, we will find it.
- If you haven’t appeared at your hearing for whatever reason and are sentenced in absentia we may be able to show the Court the valid reason for your failure to appear in Court. If a reason can be shown it could lead to a full remittal of the fine.
- If your financial circumstances have changed (for instance you have had to claim benefits or sickness allowance) Leslie Franks will present a case for remittal.
- If we can prove an allegation made against you was in some way flawed this may also lead to a remittal.
Contact us 24 hours a day to find out more.
Let one of our professional and highly-experienced team members begin the process.
By what means can Leslie Franks cause the remit of a fine?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We use various pieces of legislation from the Magistrates Court Act of 1980 to work towards the cancellation of a Magistrates’ Court fine.
In most cases we can even eliminate Court costs and victim surcharges (which are determined by warrants of commitment issued under s.76 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980).
We may aim to have your fine reduced or remitted by arranging instead for a Courthouse detention. This means that you will be detained in the precincts of the Court for 2-3 hours; after which the fine is remitted.
Our advice is free and impartial and if you so wish you can be represented in court by one of our fully-qualified solicitors. Our services to you include:
- Presenting a court case with a view to cancelling a Magistrates’ Court fine
- Organising and presenting a budget to the court
- Making a plea for a fine to be suspended
- Defending a missed court fine payment
A word about compensation and costs:
Magistrates’ Court fines are made up not just of the penalty fine. Taken into consideration as well are the Court’s costs (the figure for a guilty plea is around £50), compensation and the victim surcharge.
Unlike the penalty component of a fine, compensation and costs cannot be remitted in the same way. However, according to the UK’s Sentencing Council Guidelines: “Where payment is unlikely or impractical due to the defaulter’s means or circumstances, the sum may be discharged or reduced. Victims and claimants should be consulted and given an opportunity to attend the hearing.”
Leslie Franks aims for a complete annulment of these elements of the fine.
For further information get in touch with us via our Helpline 0844 414 6035 or Contact Us.