I was just sentenced and was ordered a fine – what happens if I can’t pay it?

When you are being sentenced and the judge wants to include a fine, the judge must first inquire about your ability to pay that fine. You must be given reasonable time to pay it. Fines are generally only imposed in cases where imprisonment has been dismissed, and the fine stands as punishment in its place.


When the fine is imposed, you have to be told about the possibility of applying for an extension of time to pay. You can request the extension informally by filling out a form specifying the reason for non-payment and additional time requested. It does not require a court hearing.


If you do have outstanding fines, the court can begin to impose sanctions on you to encourage you to pay them, culminating with incarceration. The most common sanction the court will impose is to suspend your driver’s license, or, at least, prevent you from renewing it. If the court finds that you, without reasonable excuse, refuse to pay your fines, they can consider incarceration. The amount of time will be calculated based on the amount of the fine unpaid and the minimum wage.


If you are worried about your ability to pay your fine, give us a call and we can discuss your legal options. If you want to request an extension but are worried about filling out the forms, we can definitely help you out.

Ron Ellis is a criminal defence lawyer based in London, Ontario and practices criminal defence law all over Southwestern Ontario, including Grand Bend, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener.

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