Going to court about your special circumstances

Going to court about your special circumstances

Currently people who claim that there are special circumstances to explain their fine, have their matters heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

If you are referred to court you must accept that you broke the law.

At court you will see a magistrate or judicial registrar. They will consider your special circumstances and decide what will happen to your unpaid fines. See Possible outcomes and penalties.

We have lawyers on ‘duty’ at the court who can help you if you have a special circumstances matter. 

To be referred to the court about your special circumstance you must first apply to have enforcement of your fines reviewed by Fines Victoria.

See How to make a special circumstances application.

Before going to court

Here are some things to think about a week or so before going to court:

  • get time off work – you may need to get the whole morning or afternoon off
  • arrange childcare – you may need to get someone to look after your children
  • bring a friend – you may need someone to drive you home if you are at court for driving fines and you end up losing your licence
  • bring paperwork – make sure you bring relevant documents that will support your case. This includes any medical evidence or support material that you sent with your application to cancel (revoke) your enforcement order or infringement warrant
  • you may also find our booklet Your day in court helpful.

What happens in your hearing

At your hearing you will have to agree that you broke the law. This means you will be pleading guilty to the criminal offence and there will be a record of this.

You also need to convince the magistrate or judicial registrar that you committed the offences because you had special circumstances. This means that because of your special circumstance:

  • you could not control your behaviour when you broke the law or
  • you did not understand that you had broken the law.

The magistrate or judicial registrar will also read the reports that that you sent in to Fines Victoria with your enforcement review application. They will then sentence you, taking into account your special circumstances. 

See Possible outcomes and penalties.

Tips for talking to the magistrate or judicial registrar

The magistrate or judicial registrar might ask you some questions. Here are some tips:

  • Stand up when the magistrate or judicial registrar speaks to you.
  • Call the magistrate or judicial registrar ‘Your Honour’.
  • Do not interrupt the magistrate or judicial registrar when they talk. They will ask for more information if they need it.
  • Speak clearly and loudly.
  • Look at the magistrate or judicial registrar when you speak. If you have notes, you can read from them, but remember to look up.

If you wait in the courtroom before your matter is called, watch how the magistrate or judicial registrar deal with other special circumstances matters.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with fines and infringements.

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