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Fines and infringements overview

Infringement notices or 'on-the-spot' fines are issued for many minor offences, including parking and traffic offences, public transport offences and public space offences (such as begging or being drunk in a public place). In Victoria, there are over 1800 offences that can be dealt with through an infringement notice.

Important changes from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017, the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) (IA)was changed as part of Victoria's fines reform process, including new ‘social justice initiatives' that affect people experiencing vulnerability. From 31 December 2017, the Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) (FRA) commenced, creating Fines Victoria. This resulted in significant further changes to the infringements system and substantially shorter timeframes for dealing with infringements and fines.

Please be aware of these reforms in relation to any infringements assistance that you are providing to your clients.
We are in the process of updating Homeless Law in Practice.

The IA and the FRA regulate the enforcement of infringements in Victoria. Issuing infringement notices provides an alternative method for dealing with minor offences that would otherwise have proceeded directly through the court system (typically by the issue of a "charge and summons" sheet which is a court document alleging a criminal offence against a person and requiring him or her to attend court on a particular date to answer a charge).

Infringement notices are commonly issued for summary offences (minor criminal offences heard and decided in a Magistrates' Court and not sent for trial before a judge and jury).

For some offences such as being drunk in a public place, begging and disorderly behaviour, the enforcement agency has the discretion to either issue a "charge and summons" sheet or an infringement notice.
Infringement notices should also be distinguished from court-imposed fines which occur when a person has been found guilty of committing an offence in open court and a Magistrate sentences that person to pay a fine under the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) (SA).

Note that the process and options for dealing with infringements and court-imposed fines are different.
It is common for Homeless Law clients to present with a combination of infringements, Notices of Final Demand (formerly called Enforcement Orders), Enforcement Warrants (formerly called Infringement Warrants) and open court fines.

It is important that you can identify what type of fine or infringement your client has; what the urgency of the matter is and relevant timeframes; and what your client's options are. The step-by-step guide to running an infringements matter is a good starting point.