Fines for criminal offences

Introduction

A fine is the amount of money a judge decides you have to pay as punishment for an offence. The court sets out the amount to be paid and the number of days allowed for payment. However, there are limits on the size of the fine that can be imposed for some convictions.

The court must account for your financial circumstances when deciding how much to fine you. You must also provide details of your financial circumstances to the court. Failure to provide accurate information regarding your or anyone else’s financial circumstances is a criminal offence. You can read more about the classification of crimes in criminal cases.

This document provides information on the maximum fines allowable for those summarily convicted in the District Court or convicted on indictment in the Circuit Court or the Central Criminal Court (High Court). It also includes information on how to pay a fine and the potential consequences arising from a failure to pay.

Maximum fines on summary conviction

A summary offence is one which can only be dealt with by a judge sitting without a jury, that is, in the District Court.

Under the Fines Act 2010, since January 2011 there are 5 categories or classes of maximum fine applying to summary convictions. If someone is liable on summary conviction to a particular class of fine, the maximum fine is as given below.

For example, the maximum fine for class B is €4,000. A court will often have the option of imposing a term of imprisonment instead of or in addition to a fine.

Fine classes
Fine Class A B C D E
Maximum fine €5,000 €4,000 €2,500 €1,000 €500

Maximum fines enacted before 2011

If the maximum fine on summary conviction for a particular offence was enacted or set before January 2011, it will now fit into one of the fine classes. Which fine class it belongs to depends on when the fine was set and the amount the maximum fine was set at. For example, if legislation (an act or statutory instrument) set the maximum fine on summary conviction for a particular offence at the equivalent of €500 in 1992, a class D fine now applies. See table below.

Maximum fines enacted before 2011
Fine Class A B C D E
Set in period Fine (€) Fine (€) Fine (€) Fine (€) Fine (€)
1997 - 2010 4,001 - 5,000 2,501 - 4,000 1,001 - 2,500 501 – 1,000 1 - 500
1990 - 1996 2,770 - 5,000 1,732 - 2,769 693 - 1,731 347 - 692 1 - 346
1980 - 1989 2,329 - 5,000 1,456 - 2,328 583 - 1,455 292 - 582 1 - 291
1975 - 1979 971 - 5,000 607 - 970 243 - 606 122 - 242 1 - 121
1965 - 1974 492 - 5,000 308 - 491 124 - 307 62 - 123 1 - 61
1945 - 1964 235 - 5,000 148 - 234 60 - 147 30 - 59 1 - 29
1915 - 1944 128 - 5,000 80 - 127 33 – 79 17 - 32 1 - 16
Up to 1914 101 - 5,000 51 - 100 26 - 50 7 - 25 1 - 6

Maximum fines for conviction on indictment

An indictable offence is one which may be or must be tried before a judge and jury, that is, in the Circuit Court or the Central Criminal Court. Where an indictable offence is tried summarily the maximum fine that applies is a class A fine.

Maximum fines if convicted on indictment

If the maximum fine for conviction on indictment for a particular offence was set on or after 1997, it is still the maximum fine for that offence.

If the maximum fine was set before then, the value it was set at is multiplied by the appropriate multiplier, as given in the table below, to find the current value of the maximum fine. For example, if the maximum fine was set at €5,000 in 1984, you multiply by 2 to obtain the current value of €10,000.

Maximum fines if convicted on indictment
Set in period Multiplier
1990 - 1996 1.75
1980 - 1989 2
1975 - 1979 5
1965 - 1974 10
1945 - 1964 21
1915 - 1944 39
Up to 1914 50

Indictable offences tried summarily

An indictable offence is one which may be or must be tried before a judge and jury, that is, in the Circuit Court or the Central Criminal Court (High Court). Where an indictable offence is tried summarily the maximum fine that applies is a class A fine.

How to pay a fine

If you are ordered to pay a fine, you have the option to pay in full or by instalment. You can access detailed information about paying a fine on the Courts Service website.

Payment in full can be made at any court office, An Post office, or online within the time allowed by the judge.

You can pay by instalment only if the fine exceeds €100. Instalment payments should be made through An Post.

  • The first instalment payment must be made within 42 days of the fine being imposed by the court. It must be 10% of the fine. You then have one year and 42 days to pay the full fine.
  • After the first instalment, each subsequent payment except the final instalment is due within 30 days of the previous due date. Each instalment is 7.5% of the fine.
  • The 13th and final instalment must be paid with 35 days of the previous (12th) due date. Again, it is 7.5% of the fine.

You will receive a payment plan after you pay the first instalment.

What happens if I don’t pay my fine?

If your fine remains unpaid or if you do not pay an instalment by the due date, you are likely to receive a fines enforcement notice. It will tell you the date and time you must attend for another hearing and require you to provide a written statement of your financial circumstances.

At that hearing you will be given an opportunity to pay the outstanding fine in full or the judge may opt for one of the following (in order):

  • Attachment of earnings
  • Recovery order – only for fines over €500 or corporate fines
  • Community service
  • Imprisonment

Further information

Courts Service

15-24 Phoenix Street North
Smithfield
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 888 6000

Free Legal Advice Centre

85/86 Upper Dorset Street
Dublin 1
D01 P9Y3
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 874 5690
Locall: 1890 350 250

Page edited: 12 November 2020