Fines are the most common type of sentence given by the courts. That is because they are given for lower-level crimes such as minor driving offences or minor theft.

The court sets the amount of a fine after considering how serious the offence is and how much money the offender can pay based on their income. Fines can be given to organisations or companies as well as people.

The maximum fine allowed in both magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court is unlimited (the maximum in magistrates’ court for offences committed before 12 March 2015 is £5,000).

In 2019, 78 per cent of all offenders received a fine, a total of 927,000 offenders. (These statistics are taken from the Ministry of Justice’s criminal justice statistics publications.)

More information about the assessment of fines in magistrates’ courts can be found in the explanatory materials for magistrates’ courts.