The Fines Act has standardised and indexed fines against inflation. It creates classes. A to E ranging from a €500 maximum to a €5,000 maximum fine. It indexed linked existing statutes, uplifting the permissible fine for inflation, by different multiples, depending on the era in which they were enacted.
Where a fine has been imposed, there is provision for imprisonment for failure to pay. The imprisonment may generally be terminated by payment. The Fines Act directs the court to enquire into the capacity of the convicted person to pay the fine.
A person may apply to the court, to pay a fine by installments. If the court is satisfied that payment of a lump sum would cause undue hardship, it can direct payments by installments over a period of not more than a year.
The court may appoint a receiver to seize property in order to satisfy the fine. This may only occur where the fine has not been paid by the due date. There is provision for the possibility to imposition of a community service order, where a fine has not been paid.
Fine Imprisonment in Lieu
For a person is convicted of an offence in respect to which he is liable to a fine and imprisonment the court may impose a fine and make an order imposing imprisonment and specifying the imprisonment it proposes to impose, if he fails to comply with the conditions in the order.
A copy of the order is given to an Garda Siochana. Not later than one month before the date specified in the order, the convicted person, must attend a sitting at the court at the time specified. Upon the application by a member of an Garda Siochana for an order imposing a term of imprisonment, the court may, if it satisfied that the person has contravened a condition of the order, impost terms of imprisonment that it had proposed to make, at the time of the making of the order or such lesser term as it considers just in the circumstances of the case.
The court may make an order for witness expenses other than the against the DPP and members of an Garda Siochana. An order may be made for witness expenses on the occasion of an adjournment separate to the matter of the costs generally of the case.
Witnesses’ expenses will be payable in such manner and to such person as the court directs.
A court may award compensation in addition to a fine. The award of compensation may be added to the fine for the purpose of imprisonment in default. The compensation is payable to the person injured or aggrieved. Where the person is unknown it may be applied for other purposes.
The court sometimes directs that a person shall make payment to the so-called court poor box in lieu of convictions. Disposition of the poor box funds varies from court to court. They are generally paid to various charitable organisations in accordance with the judge’s discretion.
The maximum period of imprisonment that may be imposed is specified by statute. Generally, in the District Court, the maximum term of imprisonment is a year.
A warrant may be issued to commit an accused who has been sentenced to imprisonment. A warrant may be issued for the failure to pay a fine. Warrants are addressed to an Garda Siochana for the relevant place where the person resides.
The warrant is are executed by the arrest of the person concerned. A warrant of distress may issue to an Garda Siochana to seize goods by way of satisfaction of a monetary fine. The goods may be sold to satisfy the fine concerned within a certain period. The surplus is returned to the owner.