11. Imposition of fines with custodial sentences

Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.

A fine and a custodial sentence may be imposed for the same offence although there will be few circumstances in which this is appropriate, particularly where the custodial sentence is to be served immediately. One example might be where an offender has profited financially from an offence but there is no obvious victim to whom compensation can be awarded. Combining these sentences is most likely to be appropriate only where the custodial sentence is short and/or the offender clearly has, or will have, the means to pay.

Care must be taken to ensure that the overall sentence is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and that better off offenders are not able to ‘buy themselves out of custody’.

Consult your legal adviser if considering lodging fines or costs on the imposition of a custodial sentence.

Consult your legal adviser in any case in which you are considering combining a fine with a custodial sentence.