ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is a Fine?

Updated on January 16, 2010

A fine, in criminal law, a penalty exacted for commission of an offense, requiring the offender to make a payment of money to the state. Often the judge can sentence the offender to pay a fine or go to jail, and usually he can sentence him to do both. For very minor offenses, either by law or practice, the only penalty is a fine, as for most traffic offenses and violations of city ordinances, such as those dealing with the safety of buildings and sanitation.

Criminal and Civil Cases

A fine in a criminal case is similar to the payment of money required in a civil case to compensate for an injury or for business or property losses caused by the wrongful conduct of another. The principal differences are (1) that the fine in a criminal case is not limited to the amount of proven damages; (2) that it is always paid to the state, regardless of who is the injured party; and (3) that a fine may be imposed where misbehavior is both a criminal offense and the basis for a civil suit, even though the defendant has already made restitution for the loss or compensated the complainant for his injury. A fine and a civil award, however, may sometimes be indistinguishable, as when the state is the injured party and is authorized to obtain a civil penalty in addition to recovering its losses in a civil lawsuit. For example, in addition to the taxes owed in a tax fraud case, the tax delinquent may be assessed an amount equal to 50% of the taxes. The difference is also very slight when a private complainant is awarded punitive damages, as in libel, slander, and antitrust cases. In criminal cases, the defendant's wrong has always been the violation of a criminal law, and in the determination of his criminal liability he is afforded greater protections and rights.

A practice has developed (primarily when a judicial officer is not immediately available) of requiring out-of-state motorists to post bail equal to the maximum fine for alleged traffic infractions. If the motorist is willing to pay the fine, he can fail to appear forfeit his bail, and the case will be considered closed.

Fines are often an important source of revenue in some small communities, and the practice in certain localities of paying officials' salaries from fines raises the question of whether justice is impartially administered. In some large cities, traffic and parking fines are sufficient to pay the costs of administering traffic courts.

Modern Trends

Most American criminal laws state that the sentencing judge may set the fine at any amount up to a maximum sum arbitrarily chosen by the legislature to "fit the crime." A newer approach is to allow the judge to set a fine up to twice the value of the criminal's gain from his crime. Still another trend is to recognize that, for certain, offenses (including serious ones involving violence, such as forcible rape) a fine is not at all an appropriate penalty.

Other modern developments as to fines stem from efforts to equalize matters between the poor and the rich. Imposing the choice of fine or jail (that is, "$30 or 30 days") has been condemned as improper because it discriminates against the poor. Western Europe has introduced the Scandinavian concept of instituting a "day fine," under which the maximum fine is set in terms of days and the amount of the fine depends on the offender's income per day.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)