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Courts Act 2003

Fees, costs and fines

Section 95: Fixing of fines: failure to furnish statement of financial circumstances

244.Section 95 amends section 20A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 and section 128 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000.

245.The amendment to section 20A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 creates an offence for failing to provide requested financial information

246.Section 128 of the 2000 Act obliges a court, following conviction but before fixing the amount of any fine to be imposed on an individual, to take into account both the financial circumstances of the offender and the seriousness of the offence. Subsection (5) sets out the circumstances under which, if the court considers it has insufficient information to make a proper determination of the financial circumstances of the offender, it may make such determination as it thinks fit.

247.Section 95 amends section 128(5) so that where an official request has been made for financial information and a defendant has attended court without that information, if he is sentenced to a financial penalty, an inference can be drawn as to his means.

248.“Official request” is defined in s20A of the CJA 1991 as a request which is made by the court for the offender to inform the court, in the event of conviction, of his financial circumstances for the purpose of determining the amount of any fine the court may impose.

249.The intention is to ensure that the onus is on the defendant to provide information about his income and expenditure to the court, on request, before the court considers the case. If he fails to respond to an official request the court will be entitled to make assumptions about his ability to pay and fine accordingly. The provision is aimed at providing an incentive for the offender to co-operate so the court will be able to set any fine at an appropriate level (making it more likely to be paid).

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