Crime tax

The Offender Levy takes effect in Queensland from today.

Apart from a number of specified exceptions (like Commonwealth offences, and breaches of bail and suspended sentences) all adult offenders in that state will now be obliged to pay an additional amount, separate from their sentence and enforced by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (effectively, the sheriff). The levy is not a court order and, so the Queensland government maintain, cannot be appealed. It applies whether the offence is proved with or without conviction, but only one levy is applied regardless of the number of charges proved.

The Penalties and Sentences and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 levies an amount of $100 in the Magistrates’ Court and $300 for the District and Supreme Courts.

Queensland joins five states and territories that apply a user pays philosophy to criminal justice. In Victoria, s 131 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 requires the court to order an offender to pay filing fees if convicted and fined. The amount payable is $45.10 for a single offence, and $71.40 for multiple offences.

New Zealand have a flat $50 Offender Levy, but it applies only to cases in the District and High Courts.

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