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Uncertainty remains as unpaid fines can still result in imprisonment

In many criminal cases, before the Magistrates’ Courts and the Crown Courts, a judge can punish those guilty of committing offences through the imposition of fines. Should those fines not be paid within a certain period of time, a person can be ordered to serve time in prison instead of paying the fine.

The use of custody as an alternative to the payment of a fine was called into question earlier in the year. This was following a judicial review which held that the current system did not comply fully with the legislative provisions.

The DOJ has revealed that an alternative system of collecting fines and to reduce the need to use imprisonment for non-payment will not be operational until 2015. Although the majority of money warrants have been recalled from the PSNI, individuals are still being sent to prison in default of payment.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the statistics relating to this area, please see here.

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