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Beviss and Beckingsale
Mark Ollier

Magistrates can impose higher fines

Posted by Mark Ollier on May 26th 2015 in All .

A new law has come into force which removes the £5,000 cap that used to limit the maximum fines magistrates could impose.

Now they can issue much higher penalties on offenders who have committed the most serious ‘Level Five’ offences.

Magistrates now have more flexibility when deciding on punishments – they will still be able to hand down prison sentences of up to 6 months and be able to refer more serious cases to a Crown Court if they think a longer jail term is necessary.

The move comes after the government changed the law in 2012 to give magistrates more powers to fine offenders. Today’s change removes the upper limit on all current fines and maximum fines of £5,000 and above in the magistrates courts.

Some examples of offences that will be included are:

  • manufacture, import and sale of realistic imitation firearms - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • selling, supplying, offering to supply and hiring products to persons under 18, such as adult fireworks, crossbows/knives/axes/blades - maximum penalty of 6 month in prison or a Level Five fine
  • sale of alcohol to children - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • unauthorised sale of (football) tickets - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • harassment (without violence) - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine)
  • making false statement or representation to obtain social security benefit - maximum penalty of 3 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • failure to comply with an improvement notice to ensure properties are safe and habitable – maximum penalty of a Level Five fine

When handing down any fines magistrates will still take into account the financial means of the offender according to the sentencing guidelines.

Although this is not an area of law we specialise in Beviss and Beckingsale can suggest a solicitor dealing with this type of work.