Homeless Law provides legal advice and representation to clients with infringements and fines directly related to their homelessness, particularly for ‘public space offences’. These public space offences include: being drunk in public; begging; using offensive language; littering; minor theft; failure to vote; public transport offences; and some parking or driving offences where the person is homeless or sleeping in their car at the time of the offences.
Fines for public space offences have a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on people experiencing homelessness because:
they are forced to conduct their lives in public spaces, which increases their exposure to receiving infringements (including for behaviour that is not illegal in private spaces such as drinking or swearing); and
they may have vulnerabilities in addition to homelessness, including mental illness, substance dependence or family violence, which can both lead to infringements and limit their ability to resolve the infringements through payment or by engaging in the review process.
In addition to being more likely to incur infringements and less likely to be able to navigate the complex review process, people experiencing homelessness and related vulnerabilities are hit much harder by the monetary penalty imposed by fines.
This chapter aims to help you identify what type of fines or infringements your client has and what their options are for dealing with them. It provides a range of template letters and resources to assist you to run an infringements matter effectively and efficiently.