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Day Fines: A European Perspective

NCJ Number
H Albrecht
Date Published
8 pages
While Finland was the first country to introduce a day fine system in 1921, several other European countries have followed suit, including Germany, Austria, and France. Contrary to summary fines, day fines are easily adjusted to account for inflation.
In virtually all Western criminal justice systems, fines play a major role in sentencing. Day fines are assessed to satisfy the need for equal punishment because they can be set according to the individual financial circumstances of the offender. Acceptance of fines and of the authority of the criminal justice system in general can be increased by making the process of fining individualized in this way. Proponents of day fines argue that the system can expand the scope of fines and thereby restrict the use of prison sentences to a measure of last resort. The day fine system reflects the shift in current criminal justice thinking away from rehabilitation and the treatment of offenders toward justice-oriented sentencing. Day fining is believed to lead to more rationality in sentencing as the magistrate must decide on the number of day fines appropriate to the severity of the offense. Most day fine systems incorporate a provision allowing the conversion of fines into default imprisonment. This paper outlines the scope of fines, the size of one day fine unit, and the enforcement of day fines in the various European countries that have adopted this type of system. 3 notes


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