What if I cannot pay a court fine by the due date?
If you are unable to pay a court fine in full by the due date or a reasonable amount by way of instalments, you will need to undergo a means assessment. This is conducted by staff of the Fines Payment Unit at Magistrates Court Registries.
To see a flowchart of the possible outcomes of a means assessment, click here.
If the assessor finds that you or your dependants would suffer hardship by paying the court fine in full by the due date, but that you can pay a reasonable amount by way of instalments, you may be asked to enter into a written arrangement to pay it off by way of instalments with an extension of time.
If after undergoing a means assessment the Registrar is satisfied that you do not have the means to pay the court fine by way of instalments without you or your dependents suffering hardship, the Registrar may send the matter to a Magistrate or special justice for reconsideration.
You are usually required to attend Court when the matter is reconsidered.
The Court may make any of the following orders:
- waiving the court fine completely
- reducing the court fine
- deferring payment of the court fine for up to 2 years
- converting the court fine into a community service order
- converting the court fine into licence disqualification
- confirming the court fine
In reconsidering the matter, the Magistrate or special justice cannot change the recording (or not) of a conviction in relation to the offence for which the enforcement order related.
See Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 ss 64 and 70I.
What if I default on an instalment payment arrangement?
If you fail to comply with an instalment payment arrangement entered into after a means assessment, and that failure continues for 14 days, the arrangement terminates and the whole amount outstanding is enforceable.
See Expiation of Offences Act 1996 s 64(6).
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.