Special circumstances

If you have a fine and have special circumstances you may be able to have the matter reviewed.

Have you got an unpaid fine but have special circumstances?

‘Special circumstances’ may apply if at the time you got the fine you:

  1. had a mental or intellectual condition, or a serious addiction to drugs or alcohol, that meant you:
    • didn’t understand that the behaviour was against the law; or
    • couldn’t control the behaviour that was against the law (even if you knew it was against the law)

or

  1. were homeless and your homelessness meant that you couldn’t control the behaviour that was against the law (even if you knew it was against the law).

Homelessness can include staying in crisis accommodation, living in transitional housing, couch surfing or sleeping rough.

Requesting a review of your fine

In certain circumstances you can ask the issuing agency to review your fine because there were special circumstances that meant you were unable to understand or control the offending conduct.

Important: If you have received an Enforcement Order in addition to the original fine, you can no longer apply for a review. You must contact Civic Compliance on (03) 9200 8222 (metro), 1800 150 410 (regional) or visit Ground Floor, 277 William Street, Melbourne.

How and when to apply for a review

If you believe you have special circumstances you should write to the issuing agency and request a review on these grounds. You can also ask a friend or someone you trust to apply on your behalf, with your written approval. The contact details of the issuing agency will be on the fine.

An application must provide your current contact details (name, postal address and telephone number) and describe how special circumstances apply to you. It must be sent before the due date on the fine or penalty reminder notice.

Important: You are only able to make one application, so seeking legal assistance from a community agency is recommended (see below).

What do you need to provide?

You must provide a statement from your medical practitioner or case worker that explains how your special circumstances meant you could not obey the law. This statement should be less than 12 months old.

Who can provide a statement confirming special circumstances?

Statements can be accepted from relevant practitioners, including but not limited to:

  1. In the case of a mental or intellectual condition
    • general practitioner
    • psychologist, psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse
  2. In the case of a serious addiction to drugs or alcohol
    • general practitioner
    • psychologist or psychiatrist
    • case manager
    • accredited drug treatment agency or counsellor
  3. In the case of homelessness
    • case worker or case manager
    • agency funded under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 1994 or other health/community welfare service provider (e.g. Salvation Army, Jesuit Social Services).

Information for practitioners and case workers

A statement should include:

  • the practitioner’s qualification and their relationship with you
  • the nature, severity and duration of your condition or symptoms
  • how your condition affected your inability to understand or control your conduct leading to the offence.

It would also be helpful if the statement included any treatment you have undertaken or are currently undertaking.

What happens next?

If your application is successful, the agency will inform you that your fine (and any related fees) has been withdrawn and that no further action is needed.

If your application does not contain enough information, you may be asked to provide further information by a certain date. If you do not respond, your application will be reviewed based on the information available. If you require an extension, you should contact the issuing agency.

If your application is unsuccessful, the matter will be referred to the Magistrates’ Court. This gives you (or your representative) a chance to present your evidence in front of a Magistrate who can make a decision on your fine. The issuing agency will let you know the court date and advise if you need to do anything.

Who can help?

  • The issuing agency (e.g. Victorian Electoral Commission, local council, Victoria Police) — the agency’s contact details will be on your fine
  • Victoria Legal Aid (external link) — call 1300 792 387.
  • Federation of Community Legal Centres (external link) — call 9654 2204.
  • The Law Institute of Victoria (external link) can help you find a private lawyer — call 9607 9550 (referral service).
  • Civic Compliance Victoria — call (03) 9200 8222 (metro), 1800 150 410 (regional) or visit Ground Floor, 277 William Street, Melbourne.

For more information on fines or the infringements system, visit Fines Victoria.

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