- Criminal and Youth Justice Service
- Bail Services
- Children and young people who offend
- Community Payback Order
- Court Orders involving Unpaid Work in the community
- Court Services
- Court reports
- Diversion from Prosecution Scheme
- Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTO)
- Fines and Compensation Orders
- Prison Social Work at Addiewell Prison
- Prison Through-care and Aftercare
- Probation Orders
- Restriction of Liberty Orders
- Risk Assessment and Management
- West Lothian's Criminal Justice Teams and their services
- Working with people - confidentiality, communication, consultation and comments
Fines and Compensation Orders
When does the court use fines or compensation orders?
The courts use a financial penalty more frequently than any other possible sentence. Most offences can be dealt with by means of a fine. However the court may decide that the case is too serious, and will then look at other sentencing options.
The size of fine to be paid will depend on a number of factors:
- the seriousness of the charge that someone is appearing on
- the maximum fine appropriate to the case (which may be set by law, and which will have been notified to the accused beforehand); and
- the offender's personal and financial circumstances.
Payments to a fine may be made by instalments, and the court decides what these instalments will be. The payments are kept by the court and passed to the government; if a person is given a Compensation Order, they will still pay the money to the court, but it will be passed on to the person in whose favour it was made. Compensation Orders should only be made in respect of "any personal injury, loss or damage caused, whether directly or indirectly, by the acts which constituted the offence".
The court may impose both a fine and a compensation order for the same case, and the Compensation Order will be dealt with first.
It should also be noted that Compensation may be attached to other sentences: to a Community Payback Order (a Compensation Requirement) or to a Probation Order (a compensation condition). Payments are made in the same way, but in such circumstances, failure to pay the Compensation will also be considered grounds for Breach of the order.
What happens if someone doesn't pay a fine or compensation order?
The court will want to know why the payments have not been made, and in order to do this will call the fine defaulter to a special court - the Fines Court (previously called the Means Court, as it considered the individual's financial means).
That court may decide to allow further time to pay, at the rate previously set, or may adjust the size of the weekly payments. The court can order deductions from benefits (at a modest level) or from wages. Should the court wish to give the person further encouragement in this, a Fines Enforcement Officer (a court official) will follow up any failures to make payment. The Criminal Justice Social Work Service now has no formal role in this, although we will give advice and guidance upon request from people with whom we are already working.
Since 1st September 2007, the right of the courts to use imprisonment for fine default has been extremely restricted. Instead, the court will use a Supervised Attendance Order, requiring them to carry out a period of unpaid work.