The time served scheme: An overview
If you are serving a prison sentence, you can apply for any of your fines, enforcement warrants or court fines to be converted to run concurrently with your existing sentence (see ‘Other factors that can affect a sentence’ in Chapter 3.8: Imprisonment, supervision and prisoner rights).
However, note that the process is slightly different for infringement fines, enforcement warrants and court fines.
The time served scheme: Calling-in infringement fines
You can convert unpaid infringement fines and enforcement warrants for infringements from the time you entered prison (i.e. including time on remand) to run concurrently with your time in custody (as long as your sentence is for an offence that is non-fine related). You can apply at any point while you are in custody; however, the fines cannot be converted until you have been sentenced.
Further, if the period of imprisonment under the unpaid fines exceeds your sentence, then the court has additional powers to deal with the remainder of your unpaid fines, such as discharging them in full or in part (in certain circumstances), imposing a fine default unpaid community work order, a time to pay order, an instalment order or adjourning the matter. Additional prison time remains an option; however, a court must not make an imprisonment order if it is satisfied that you did not have the capacity to pay the registered fine or you had another reasonable excuse for the non-payment. Finally, the court must not order imprisonment unless satisfied that no other order is appropriate considering all the circumstances of the case. If additional prison time is ordered, this is to be served cumulatively to your existing sentence.
If you are in prison for a fine-related sentence, the court has additional powers to make orders to deal with your unpaid fines as noted above (e.g. discharging in full or in part in certain circumstances, imposing a fine default unpaid community work order, a time to pay order, an instalment order or adjourning the matter). Note that if the court orders a term of imprisonment, this is served cumulatively to your existing sentence.
The time served scheme: Calling-in court fines
You can convert unpaid court fines and enforcement warrants for court fines to run concurrently with your time in custody if you are a sentenced prisoner (as long as your sentence is for an offence that is not fine related).
You can apply any time after you have been sentenced; however, the time will only be counted from the date of the application, rather than from the time you entered custody. For your court fines to be converted, the application needs to be lodged and heard in court before you leave custody.
Note that if the period of imprisonment for the unpaid court fines exceeds the sentence, then your time in custody will be extended because, unlike infringement fines, the court does not have additional powers to deal with the remainder of any unpaid court fines. It is worth seeking legal advice from Victoria Legal Aid to check whether you will have to serve additional time in prison.
Changes to the time served scheme
The time served scheme is amended by the Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Act 2021 (Vic). At the time of writing (1 July 2021), the Act had not yet commenced operating.