We sometimes find ourselves in situations that either are not of our own making or have come about through rotten luck. To receive a Magistrates’ court fine is one such unhappy occasion.
To be served with a court summons for a crime of which you may or may not be guilty can have far-reaching implications for other parts of your life such as your employment, which can easily be affected even by an accusation of a minor crime.
You may lose your job because your employer has decided that they cannot wilfully employ you any longer. But you may also encounter issues at work completely unrelated to your court case which nonetheless bring about your loss of employment status.
If you lose your job following your conviction of an offence you must let the Court know what your intentions in respect of the judgment are.
You must do this before you miss court fine payments due to lack of money.
Regardless of your financial situation, you are beholden to the Court. If you don’t inform the Court of your difficulties a judge can force you to pay a fine by issuing you with an unpaid court fines warrant.
What happens if I can’t pay my fine?
At your hearing the Court will listen to any concerns you may have about payments and then outline its expectations of the rate of repayment of the judgement.
– 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 the court fines in instalments or you may be ordered to pay an amount within 10 days. The order will also include details of how to pay.
If, following the hearing, you lose your job (and the means to attend to the payments as laid out in the order) you can ask the court to reconsider its order. In this scenario you must contact the sentencing court’s fines officer as soon as you can.
in some regions the job of collecting Magistrates’ court fines is performed by an enforcement team. This is made up of people who are trained to deal with your situation just as a fines officer would. The copy of the collection order sent to you after your trial will tell you who you need to contact.
Your contact with the fines officer is important; how you broach the subject will affect your long-term prospects. In order for the terms to be reviewed you’ll be expected to prove that things have taken a turn for the worst and to provide evidence of your inability to pay.
If you need advice on how to broach the subject of money with the court,
contact Leslie Franks for help.
If the fines officer refuses your request for a reduced level of instalments you will have 10 days to lodge an appeal against their decision.
…And if I still can’t pay?
If you still can’t pay your Magistrates’ court fine, you can again ask the court to reconsider the order, because in special circumstances you may be able to claim a remission. In other words, you pay a reduced fee or nothing at all.
You can also ask the court to allow you to temporarily stop paying court fines in instalments. This is called a ‘stay of judgment or execution’ and comes in useful should you need a little breathing space.
In order to arrange the stay you will be asked to outline your reasons in Form N244 which you can download here from the Government’s website.
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. To have lost your job and have no means to pay could lead to the fine being remitted.
How can Leslie Franks help me?
Leslie Franks comprises 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 Magistrates’ court fines using our wisdom and intelligent application of various pieces of legislation.
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. If a reason can be shown it could lead to a full remittal of the fine.
- If your financial circumstances have changed (following your loss of employment, for example) 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 on 0844 414 6035
And let one of our highly-experienced lawyers begin the process.
What will happen if I do nothing?
If you don’t make contact with the Court to tell them you have lost your job and you don’t keep up with payments you’ll receive an unpaid court fines warrant.
If you still don’t act the Court will escalate your case with the issue of a Distress Warrant.
By doing so the Court can enforce the payment of any 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
And in response to the most serious cases of missed court fine payments, the Court can issue an arrest warrant with a view to punishing you further.
The Court knows that to try to extract money from someone who has none is pointless.
If, after your hearing you realise that you can’t pay a Magistrates’ Court fine in full or by instalments because you have lost your job, 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.
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. We may even be able to help to have the fine written off entirely.