The Hidden Punitiveness of Fines for Minor Offences: Lost in Plain Sight

Prof. Russell Hogg1
1School of Justice, QUT, Brisbane, Australia

The fine is the most common penalty imposed by courts of summary jurisdiction in Australia, and fines imposed by way of penalty notice or infringement notice are a multiple of those imposed by the courts. The latter are being used for an increasing range of offences. This progressive ‘monetization of justice’ (O’Malley) and its effects have passed largely unnoticed. The enforcement of fines has, in most parts of Australia, been passed from the justice system to government revenue agencies with barely any public scrutiny or academic analysis. This paper will survey the theoretical literature on the role of the fine and consider the neglected question of fines enforcement. It argues that despite the familiarity of the fine, and its apparent simplicity and transparency, the fine is a mode of punishment that hides complex penal and social realities and effects.


Russell Hogg is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology.


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