Homeless Law assists a significant number of clients who are facing imprisonment for unpaid fines.
The most common situation is that clients come to us when they have previously been given an imprisonment in lieu order by the Magistrates’ Court and they have subsequently failed to comply with the court ordered payment plan, so a warrant to imprison has been issued under section 68(b) of the Magistrates’ Court Act1989 (Vic).
There are two ways that a person can get an imprisonment in lieu order:
Under ss 165(1)(c) or 165(3)(e) of the Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) (FRA) (i.e. if they are arrested and bailed to appear for non-payment of infringements warrants or breach of a community work permit); or
Via the open court process (for example, under section 69H of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) (SA) for failure to pay a court fine).
It is important to advise a client who presents with a warrant to imprison that if apprehended, the client will go to prison and the legal options for dealing with warrants to imprison involve a degree of uncertainty.
Whether the imprisonment in lieu order was made under the Infringements Act or the Sentencing Act will influence what options are available to your client. These are discussed in further detail in later HLP pages.