Fines are the most common type of sentence given. That’s because they are given for lower level crimes that are common such as minor driving offences or theft. The amount is set by the court after considering the seriousness of the offence and how much money the offender can pay. Fines can be given to organisations or companies as well as people.

The maximum fine allowed in a magistrates’ court has generally been £5,000, but for offences committed on or after 12 March 2015 the fines in a magistrates’ court will be unlimited in most cases. In the Crown Court, the fine can be unlimited.

In 2016, 74 per cent of all offenders received a fine, a total of 910,704 offenders.

More information about the assessment of fines in the magistrates’ court can be found in the:

Note: The change bringing in unlimited fines in magistrates’ courts is not yet reflected in the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines.

These statistics are taken from the Ministry of Justice’s criminal justice statistics publications.