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Warrants to imprison

Important changes from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017, the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) was changed as part of Victoria's fines reform process, including new ‘social justice initiatives' that affect people experiencing vulnerability. On 31 December 2017, the Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) commenced, creating Fines Victoria. This resulted in significant further changes to the infringements system and substantially shorter timeframes for dealing with infringements and fines.

Please be aware of these reforms in relation to any infringements assistance that you are providing to your clients.

We are in the process of updating Homeless Law in Practice. Justice Connect Homeless Law pro bono lawyers should read our further materials about the changes here (password needed), before doing any fines work after 1 July 2017. Please speak to your supervising lawyer, team leader or Homeless Law staff for more information.

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 Act.

There are two ways that a person can get an imprisonment in lieu order:

  • Via section 160 of the Infringements Act (i.e. if they are arrested and bailed to appear for non-payment of infringements warrants or breach of a community work permit); and
  • Via the open court process (for example, under section 69H of the Sentencing Act for failure to pay an open 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.