Australia’s court system would break down if every offence or infringement resulted in a court appearance. Richard Fox points out that in Victoria 88 per cent of offences and infringements are dealt with by way of expiation or “on-the-spot” fines (which are not actually paid on-the-spot). While reducing the court burden, these alternative dispositions do raise questions about fairness.
Non-stigmatising offences are usually expiated as a matter of cost and convenience, and given the simplicity, become significant revenue sources for governments. New technologies make detection easier and there are continual demands for new infringements to come under the expiation system, thus widening the area of criminality.
Outlining arguments about the structure and process, professor Fox suggests the need for an Infringements Act and lists the features such an Act might contain.
This paper is taken from the report of research undertaken with the assistance of a grant from the Criminology Research Council.
Criminology Research Council grant no. 27/91