Magistrates Court Fines
Collection of fines
Powers of the court
The Magistrates’ Court has the power to search you and remove all the money you have with you in order to pay the fine. The court also has the power to detain you in the court for the rest of the day, or order you to do unpaid work in some circumstances (with your agreement).
Collection order details
Paying your court fine
If you miss payments and you have not contacted the fines officer to reduce your payments, the fines officer must make an attachment of earnings order or a deduction from benefits order. If neither orders are possible, then the fines officer may take ‘further steps’.
Attachment of earnings order
The amount the court can order you to pay out of your earnings is calculated on a sliding scale, based on your take home pay. An attachment of earnings order will not be made if you are either self-employed or a director of a limited company (and you do not take a regular salary). It is also possible to have more than one fine paid through a consolidated attachment of earnings order.
Deductions of benefits order
County or High Court enforcement
If the fines officer decides you are able to afford to pay in one lump sum and you have not, they can apply to the County Court or High Court for a third party debt order, or a charging order, to be made against you.
Change in circumstances
Magistrates Court hearing
Remitting the fine
This means the court can write off all, or part, of your fine where you have had a change in your circumstances or your circumstances have gotten worse since the fine was set. They could also remit the fine if the court did not have full details of your income, expenditure and debts when the fine was originally decided. This is unlikely due to the other options the court has. The court is unable to write off compensation orders or costs.
Serving a sentence
If you are currently serving a sentence in prison, you can ask the court to ‘lodge’ (link) your fine to your sentence. This has the effect of clearing the fine in full. You can obtain a form to do this from the prison staff.
Alternatively a member of your family, a friend or an advice agency could contact the court on your behalf. They should ask for your fine to be lodged to your sentence and give the court details of your prison, your prison number and the expected date of your release.
If you have not taken steps to deal with your fine, but you have served your sentence recently, you can still ask for your fine to be remitted (written off). In this situation you should take your release papers to the Magistrates’ Court. Ask the fines officer to show your release papers to the magistrates and request they remit your fine.