The Hidden Costs of Going to Court – Court Costs and Victim’s Support Levies

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Court costs

It is understandable that people facing criminal charges are ordinarily anxious about the impact those proceedings may have on their liberty and future.

What everyone may not know is that those who are guilty of a criminal offence will normally be liable for ‘court costs’ and a ‘victim’s support levy’ – which are directly payable to the court registry.

Court Costs

Court Costs are an amount levied on people who have pleaded guilty or who are found guilty of offences in summary proceedings in the Local Court.

The levy contributes to the cost of running courts and the justice system.

The levy is currently $85.00.

It is not a penalty imposed by a Magistrate.

Instead, it is automatically imposed by virtue of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW).

The following circumstances are exempt from court costs:

  • Convictions resulting in full time imprisonment
  • Convictions before the Drug Court
  • Convictions before the Children’s Court, and
  • Findings of guilt in the Local Court for traffic offences when dealing with minors.

Victim’s Support Levy

The Victims Support Levy is an additional cost imposed on those found guilty of offences in NSW Courts.

Monies raised from the levy go into a Victims Support Fund and provides financial support and counselling assistance to victims of violent crimes in NSW.

As with Court Costs, this levy is not imposed by a Judge or Magistrate but is imposed automatically by the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013 (NSW).

The following situations are exempt from the levy:

  • Offences relating to the use of offensive language or offensive conduct in a public place
  • Offences relating to ‘fare evasion’ i.e. travelling on public transport without a valid ticket, and
  • Parking offences.

Unlike the Court Costs Levy, the Victims Support Levy applies to offences in the higher courts in addition to the Local Court.

The Levy imposed in the Local Court is currently $74.00 and in higher courts and for indictable offences $166.00.

Court Costs and the Victim’s Support Levy are not limited to convictions.

Orders under section 10 dismissal or conditional release order of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) are considered convictions for the purpose of Court Costs as well as the Victims Support Levy.

The exception is where a matter is dismissed under Section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) in relation to offences which are not punishable by sentences of imprisonment.

The end result is that, even after you have left court, you may be liable to pay extra levies of $159.00 in total for summary matters or even more for indictable matters.

For people who plead guilty or are found guilty of multiple offences, this can certainly add up to a lot of money!

As these levies are automatically imposed, there is no right of appeal and the law only allows 28 days to pay those amounts, although you can make arrangements for an extension of time or to pay by instalments.

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