I’ve Been Given A Penalty Notice

If the police or council reasonably believe you’ve committed a minor crime they can give you an ‘on the spot fine’, usually called a fixed penalty notice.  These are usually for low level anti social behaviour, harassment, being drunk and disorderly, littering or parking where you shouldn’t.  Penalty notices don’t appear on your criminal record, but if you don’t pay, you might get a higher fine, or be imprisoned.

If you believe you were given a fixed penalty notice unfairly, you can fight against it (appeal) in court.  If you want to appeal against the fine you would normally be given details at the time about how to do this.  The usual process is to not pay the fine and wait for a court summons telling you to attend a magistrates court for the unpaid fine.  Sometimes the organisation that gave you the penalty notice will not challenge your appeal and not attend court, meaning you don’t have to pay the penalty notice.  However, if they do and you’re convicted you could be given a higher fine, have to pay court legal costs and end up with a criminal record.  If you want to appeal a penalty notice you should get legal advice.