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Commonwealth Penalties – Fines

Fines are one of the most common penalties for Commonwealth Offences.

Maximum fines can be substantial, sometimes in the tens or hundreds of thousand dollars.

Perhaps more importantly, fines carry a criminal record.

In deciding the amount of any fine, the court must consider:

1. The maximum fine applicable to the offence, and

2. the person’s financial circumstances, if those circumstances are ascertainable.

The court can also consider, if appropriate:

(a) the nature and circumstances of the offence,

(b) the personal circumstances of the defendant,

(c) any injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence,

(d) the degree of contrition shown, including payment of any ‘restitution’ (ie money to make up for loss),

(e) any plea of guilty,

(f) any cooperation with law enforcement authorities,

(g) the deterrant effect of the sentence on the person,

(h) the need for adequate punishment,

(i) the person’s character, criminal history (if any), age, means and physical or mental condition,

(j) the prospect of rehabilitation, and

(k) the probable effect on the person’s family or dependants.

To reduce the amount of any fine, it is important to prepare various documents for the court including:

– character references; and/or

– evidence of any repayments made to the alleged ‘victim’; and/or

– evidence of any financial hardship; and/or

– any reports from counsellors or others about remorse and the impact of the offence.

Your criminal lawyer can hep you prepare those documents and put you in the best possible position at your ‘sentencing hearing’.

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