Defendants found guilty of offences in the Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts will pay an offender levy with recent amendments to the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (“the Act”).
The levy will apply as follows:
- Supreme Court $300.00
- District Court $300.00
- Magistrates Court $100.00
This levy will apply to all adult offenders; there are no exceptions regardless of the nature of the offence or the offender’s personal circumstances.
The offender levy is automatically imposed at the conclusion of sentencing as an administrative levy and is in addition to any other sentence imposed.
The levy must not form part of the sentence with the court prohibited under section 48 of the Act from taking the levy into account when considering the financial circumstances of an offender. Section 9 of the Act also precludes the court from considering the levy when imposing its sentence
The levy is payable per sentencing event regardless of the number of convictions or whether or not a conviction is recorded.
Defendants will need to be vigilant to ensure that summary matters associated with more serious offences are resolved at the same time. The practice of clearing up minor offences following sentence in a superior court would not seem to meet the definition of a sentencing proceeding and would attract a second offender levy.
No further levy is payable by the offender where the Court is called upon to resentence by:
- Substituting another sentence;
- Further deal with the offender including the making of a further order; or
- Confirming, varying or amending the sentence or order made on the original sentence.
If upon appeal all convictions that resulted in the imposition of the offender levy are quashed the proper officer must refund to the offender any amount paid to the proper officer for the offender levy.
The act is retrospective; that is the relevant date is conviction and not the offence date. Therefore those convicted of an offence after 21 August 2012 will be required to pay the offender levy in addition to any other sentence imposed.
The Court is required to pass on the offender’s details to the State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER). The proper officer of SPER is then required to collect the levy in the usual course of its business. Caution will need to be exercised, as the recording of incorrect particulars with SPER will result in a default. SPER has far reaching powers including the ability to suspend a persons Queensland Drivers Licence.
The Penalties and Sentences and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 also included an increase to the value of the penalty unit from $100 to $110.
The penalty unit is the basic monetary value for most fines and penalty infringement notices issued by courts, police and other Queensland agencies.