Court Fine Reduction
If you’ve been convicted by a Court either in your absence or after appearing and have received a fine that you have no means to pay, we can help. A quick phone call to Leslie Franks Solicitors could make all the difference and save you a lot of money.
Call us free on 0800 6127 128: our dedicated 24-hour helpline.
We have successfully appealed many cases slapped with fines that were either unjust or greatly in excess of our clients’ means. If you have unpaid court fines or have missed your Court hearing through no fault of your own, we’ll work towards a hefty reduction in the fine.
…Why not be one of those who can benefit from our work?
Why would you receive a fine?
Firstly, let’s look at some offences which carry the sentence of a Magistrates’ Court fine (rather than custody):
- Minor driving offences (or not paying a Fixed Penalty Notice)
- Non-payment of a TV licence
- Non-payment of Transport for London fares
- Non-payment of council tax
- Minor criminal damage
- Some public order offences
For these sorts of lesser offence, the Court will give you the option to send in a written plea of guilty by post. By doing so the Court will sentence you to a fine in your absence and you won’t have to attend the hearing. However, if the offence warrants further punishment you will be required to be present.
What are fines composed of?
A single fine is usually made up of various costs, these are:
- The Fine Itself
- Victims Surcharge
How is the sentencing worked out?
The amount of a Magistrates’ Court fine is usually set by statute and is decided upon after careful deliberation of the facts of a case, including the seriousness of the offence and mitigating factors.
Sentencing is carried out according to Sentencing Council Guidelines and the fine is made up of the penalty fine, costs, compensation and victim surcharge.
Before attending court, you will have received a Means Enquiry Form (MC100) and a summons. Crucially, this form must be completed. It is a statutory obligation to do so and failure to do so is considered an offence.
This Means Enquiry forms the basis of how the Court will assess the level of the fine and it won’t hear the case unless it has sight of the form. Even if you have no income at all, the form must still be completed (it is also a criminal offence to fill the means form out inaccurately).
What happens if I miss the hearing?
It is possible that you might not have known about the case. For example, you may have changed your address and not received your summons at your new address. Or you might have known about the case but could not face attending Court.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that people often fail to appear in court, even though they are much more likely to receive a stay of enforcement when appearing in person.
Consequently, many people accused of lesser crimes are being handed Magistrates’ Court fines after a trial in absentia. That is to say they have not attended for reasons other than choosing to send in a written plea of guilty.
The Court will thus make an assumption about the person’s income and levy the fine far in excess of what the person may be able to afford.
What is enforcement?
Regardless of your reasons for missing the court or failing to pay a fine, the Court will follow a process of enforcement to make you pay the fine. In England and Wales unpaid court fines are dealt with in one (or more) of the following ways:
- The fine can be increased by 50%
- The fine is registered on their credit history for five years
- A percentage of a fine may be taken directly from their benefits or wages
- Bailiffs can be called to their address to seize goods
- The convicted can be ordered to undertake community work
- The convicted can be sent to prison
In Scotland the courts also have the right to take money from someone’s bank account or have their car impounded.
If you find yourself faced with enforcement proceedings for unpaid Court fines you need to act fast: Call us free on 0800 6127 128 or Contact Us. Unlike other solicitors who cover a wide range of legal services, we specialise in the provision of advice, assistance and representation in the field of criminal law. In this way, every member of our staff is on hand to provide specialist and dedicated legal advice.
So, can Leslie Franks help me with my fine?
Yes, we can help with the reduction of the fine if you:
- Have been summoned for an offence but have no money
- Can no longer afford to pay the fine but attended court
- Missed your hearing and didn’t return an MC100
- Think the allegations against you are flawed in some way
Important: Not being able to pay or not having been served an MC100 are vital factors of your defence and can lead to a reduction in the Magistrates’ Court fine.
As well as appealing the sentence on the basis of its legal worth, Leslie Franks uses various pieces of legislation to try to reduce the amount of the various elements of your fine.
This might mean agreeing to a short-term Detention Order to reduce or eliminate the Court’s costs and Victim’s surcharge.
Or, we can appeal with a statement of a change of financial circumstances which has caused you to be unable to pay the fine and make a case for the amount of the fine itself to be deemed unjust.
If you would like more information on this or other matters get in touch today. We are among the leading providers of criminal defence services in North London and our standards of practice are recognised by the Law Society, having been awarded the Lexcel Practice Management Standard.
Review of Compensation Orders
Under s133 of Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act of 2000, we can have the compensation element of a fine reduced/remitted. Using the following legislation:
s133 (1) The magistrates court for the time being having functions in relation to the enforcement of a compensation order (in this section referred to as “the appropriate court”) may, on the application of the persona against whom the compensation order was made, discharge the order or reduce the amount which remains to be paid; but this is subject to subsections (2) to (4) below.
2(a) at a time when there is no further possibility of an appeal on which the compensation order could be varied or set aside and
(b) at a time before the person against whom the compensation order was made has paid into court the whole of the compensation which the order requires him to pay.
(c) that the means of the person against whom the compensation order was made are insufficient to satisfy in full both the order and any or all of the following made against him in the same proceedings.
(4) Where the compensation order was made by the crown court, the appropriate court shall not exercise any power conferred by subsection (1) above in a case where it is satisfied as mentioned in paragraph (c) or (d) of subsection (3) above unless it has first obtained the consent of the crown court.
You’re in safe hands with Leslie Franks Solicitors.