The Penalty Unit

Prior to the introduction of penalty units, fines and other charges were usually prescribed in terms of ordinary money (pounds or, later, dollars).

The Penalty Unit

Have you ever wondered what is a penalty unit and why the Court use them?

WHAT IS A PENALTY UNIT?

In short, a penalty unit (PU) is an amount of money used to compute pecuniary penalties for many breaches of statute law and is the way the Courts in NSW calculate fines.

WHATS IS THE CALCULATION PROCESS?

Fines are calculated by multiplying the value of one penalty unit by the number of penalty units prescribed for the offence. Currently 1 penalty unit in NSW equals $110.00.

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO CACULATE PENALTY UNITS

Take a crime in NSW of say, “failing to stop at the scene of an accident and give personal details to another driver involved in the crash, any person injured, or the owner of damaged property”.

This crime prescribes a maximum fine of 20 penalty units.

Given the above scenario 20PU x $110.00 means the fine could be up to $2,200.00

WHAT IS THE LAW WHICH GOVERNS A PENALTY UNIT?

With respect to penalty units Section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 sets out the value of one (1) penalty unit and reads as follows:

Unless the contrary intention appears, a reference in any Act or statutory rule to a number of penalty units (whether fractional or whole) is taken to be a reference to an amount of money equal to the amount obtained by multiplying $110 by that number of penalty units.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR A PENALTY UNIT?

Prior to the introduction of penalty units, fines and other charges were usually prescribed in terms of ordinary money (pounds or, later, dollars). However, the effects of inflation meant that originally substantial penalties were eventually reduced to trifling sums. Frequent amendment of the many laws and regulations dealing with pecuniary penalties would be a very time-consuming process. Penalty units provide a quick and simple way to adjust many different fees and charges.

CAN A COURT REDUCE THE PENALTY?

Usually yes unless the fine is mandatory. See Section 21(3) Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act which provides:

If by any provision of an Act or statutory rule an offender is made liable to a fine of a specified amount, a court may nevertheless impose a fine of a lesser amount.

Given the above unless the amount of the fine is mandatory, any fine may be imposed less than that specified for the offence in the legislation.

HOW DOES THE COURT WORK OUT WHAT I CAN AFFORD TO PAY?

To work out what fine to pay in, the court is required to consider:

(a) such information regarding the means of the accused as is reasonably and practicably available to the court for consideration, and;

(b) such other matters as, in the opinion of the court, are relevant to that fixing of the amount.

TIME TO PAY

Section 5 of the Fines Act provides a period of 28 days to pay the fine and a person may apply to the court registrar for additional time to pay. However, a court with special reasons may direct payment before 28 days: See s 7(3) of the Act.

WHY NATIONAL CRIMINAL LAWYERS?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers™ : 

We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having the charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced staff who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option you choose National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

National Criminal Lawyers™ are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any driving offence our Team and National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes. Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit our website for more information about your options.

 

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