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.
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. How to run a matter is a good starting point.
As a member of a community legal centre, you should be able to access information about your client’s infringements without needing a written authority to act. You can access more information on this here.