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Warrants to imprison under the Sentencing Act

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.

Clients can also present with warrants to imprison where a court has ordered that they be sentenced to a term of imprisonment in default of payment under the Sentencing Act (rather than via section 160 of the Infringements Act) (the warrant itself is still issued under section 68 of the Magistrates Court Act).

To identify which of these types of matters your client has, you should contact the Magistrates' Court to obtain a copy of the orders on the court file. 

One of the ways in which clients come to get an imprisonment in lieu order under the Sentencing Act is where they have been given a community corrections order or a fine conversion order which they fail to comply with.  They are then brought back before the Court via charge and summons under section 83AG(1) of the Sentencing Act and the Court makes an order that the client pays the outstanding amount on the underlying fine with an order for imprisonment in default of payment.

The key differences in relation to these matters as opposed to warrants to imprison under section 160 of the Infringements Act are:

  • The jurisdictional complexities do not exist - these are criminal proceedings for the purpose of the Criminal Procedure Act so there is a right of appeal and rehearing available to clients;
  • The underlying offences for which the client was sentenced may involve criminal charges. Contact Homeless Law to discuss the prospects of our Criminal Lawyer defending the matter or making a referral to Victoria Legal Aid.  

With these differences in mind, the following options apply to clients with warrants to imprison stemming from orders under the Sentencing Act: