Difference Between Fine and Penalty

Fine vs Penalty
 

Identifying the difference between Fine and Penalty is not complex. Although the terms are sometimes used synonymously, they do not constitute one and the same thing. A fine connotes something specific while a penalty is more generic in nature and thus can encompass a number of things. Let’s take a look at their definitions before distinguishing the two terms.

What is a Fine?

A fine refers to a monetary charge or payment imposed upon a person who has been convicted of a crime or an offence of a minor degree. It is mostly used in a criminal law context wherein a court of law will punish a person convicted of a crime by imposing a fine. The Court will sentence a fine depending on the nature of the case and the crime committed. Likewise, the court will determine the amount of the fine depending on the type of crime and its severity. For example, if a person is found guilty of either theft or fraud, the court may sentence that person to a term of imprisonment as well as impose the payment of a fine. Therefore, fines may be imposed in addition to imprisonment, probation, community service, or other forms of punishment. The concept of a fine is frequently seen in motor traffic related offences wherein people pay Fines as a result of breaking one or more traffic laws. Examples of this include exceeding the speed limit or driving under the influence of alcohol. A Fine is thus a monetary punishment imposed on a person convicted of committing a crime.

Difference Between Fine and Penalty

Exceeding the speed limit results in a fine

What is a Penalty?

As mentioned earlier, penalty is a generic term and refers to punishment. This punishment can take various forms including the payment of a fine. Thus, a fine comes within the definition of a penalty. In law, a penalty is defined as a punitive measure that the law imposes for the performance of an act or for the failure to perform a certain act. A penalty can be found in both civil and criminal law, and encompasses both monetary and physical forms of punishment. In ordinary parlance, however, penalty is often used in reference to a financial or pecuniary punishment. In addition to fines, a penalty also refers to other forms of punishment such as imprisonment. It is typically imposed on persons who violate the law. In a civil law context, a penalty may be imposed in relation to contracts. Thus, if a party fails to perform a condition in the contract, such as when the contract has not been completed by the agreed date or a certain amount has not been paid by a particular date, a penalty will be imposed. Such penalties may be in the form of an additional charge or even damages, which will be paid in the event of a breach of contract. In certain instances in criminal law, a penalty may also be in the form of a forfeiture of property as ordered by the court. Thus, the person convicted of an offence will lose his/her rights and interests in the property as stipulated by the court.

 Fine vs Penalty

Not following the conditions in a contract results in penalty

What is the difference between Fine and Penalty?

The difference between a Fine and Penalty is thus simple to identify. A fine falls within the purview of penalty and thus constitutes one type of penalty or punishment.

• Definition of Fine and Penalty:

• A fine refers to a monetary charge or payment imposed upon a person who has been convicted of a crime or minor offence.

• A penalty refers to a punitive measure that the law imposes for the performance of an act or for the failure to perform a certain act.

• Concept of Fine and Penalty:

• The Court will determine the amount of the fine depending on the type of crime and its severity. Fines may be imposed in addition to imprisonment, probation, community service or other forms of punishment.

• A penalty includes fines, imprisonment and other forms of punishment. It is typically imposed on persons who violate the law. In a civil law context, it may be imposed in relation to contracts. Thus, if a party fails to perform a condition in the contract, such as when the contract has not been completed by the agreed date or a certain amount has not been paid by a particular date, a penalty will be imposed.

• Application:

• Fine is mostly used in a criminal law context wherein a court of law will punish a person convicted of a crime by imposing a fine.

• Penalty can be found in both civil and criminal law, and encompasses both monetary and physical forms of punishment. However, it is generally used in reference to a financial or pecuniary punishment.

• Examples of Fine and Penalty:

• Examples of a fine include exceeding the speed limit or driving under the influence of alcohol.

• Examples of penalties include payment of an additional charge in the event a party fails to perform a condition in the contract or payment of a fine.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Speeding ticket by Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Contract signing via Wikicommons (Public Domain)