If you are found guilty, you may have to pay costs as well as a fine. If you are found not guilty the court may make orders that the prosecution pay you for your legal costs.
Court costs levy
A 'court costs levy' is a fee for having your case heard at court. If you are convicted of any offence the court will order that you pay a court costs levy of $85.00 (as at 1 July 2022).
You should not be ordered to pay the court costs levy if you get a:
- conviction for a case in the NSW Drug Court
- conviction in the Children's Court
- prison sentence (other than a suspended sentence).
Victims support levy
You may also have to pay a 'victims support levy' if you are convicted of some offences. The victims support levy goes into a government fund, which is used to pay financial assistance to victims of crime. The current levy is $90.00 (as at 1 July 2022).
You should not be ordered to pay a victims support levy if the offence is about:
- offensive language
- travelling on public transport without paying the fare or without a ticket
- engaging in offensive conduct.
In most cases the court costs levy and victims support levy do not have to be paid if you are found guilty but not convicted (a section 10 dismissal) unless you also get a good behaviour bond. If you are not sure what sentence you were given or whether you will have to pay either levy you should get
For more information, see Paying fines and judgment amounts on the Local Court website.
If you are found guilty of an offence, you may be ordered to pay the prosecutor's legal costs. Depending on the offence, the prosecutor may be a police officer, council or RSPCA officer, or a lawyer representing Transport for NSW (TfNSW) (formerly known as Roads and Maritime Services or RMS).
The amount of legal costs that you could be ordered to pay can vary from case to case, and depends on the amount that the prosecutor asks for and what the magistrate thinks is just and reasonable.
Professional costs are not usually ordered in most criminal and traffic matters. Traffic infringements can be issued either by TfNSW or by police. If you elect to take a traffic infringement to court and plead guilty, police will often prosecute these on behalf of TfNSW.
If you plead ‘not guilty’ TfNSW will usually prosecute the matter. If you are unsuccessful and you are found guilty, TfNSW may seek costs. TfNSW do not usually seek costs in licence appeals. Other prosecuting bodies such as local councils (for example, if you were disputing a council parking fine) or the RSPCA, may seek costs.
If you are found not guilty the court can order that your legal costs be paid by the prosecutor, however this is rare.
If the prosecutor is a public officer, such as a police officer or officer of the RSPCA, the court will only order that they pay your costs if:
- the investigation into your case or the way in which the case was conducted, was unreasonable or improper in any way
- there are other exceptional circumstances related to how the prosecutor ran the case against you.
If you are found guilty of an offence, the Court can make a Criminal Compensation Order that you pay the victim an amount of money to compensate them for loss or injuries.
Police can seek this order on behalf of the victim of crime. The Court will usually decide whether to make the Order at the same time you are sentenced.
If you disagree with the amount of compensation police are asking for, you can:
- try to negotiate or clarify this with police before your court date
- ask police for receipts or repair quotes if you think the amount they are asking for is too high
- tell the Magistrate why you don't agree with the amount when you go to court
If a Criminal Compensation Order is made, the Magistrate will make this order in Court. You will be sent a notice of penalty which tells you the amount of compensation ordered, along with any fine, court costs and levies that apply to you. You will have to pay the total amount within 28 days.
If you can't pay the fine within 28 days, you can apply at the Court registry to pay the fine by instalments or ask for an extension.
For more information, see Paying a fine in criminal cases on the Local Court website.
If you disagree with the order, you have 28 days to appeal to the District Court.
Before you appeal the decision, you should get legal advice.
If you don't appeal the decision, or pay the compensation within 28 days, the victim may take steps to recover the money from you.
The victim can ask the Court for a Certificate of Conviction or a Certificate of Order. Once this is registered as a judgment of the Court, the victim can enforce the debt. Fees for the certificate being issued and registered will be added to the total amount you have to pay.
For more information on what happens if a debt is enforced, see If you don't pay on the Representing Yourself section of the website.
If the victim receives financial assistance or a payment from Victims Services, Victims Services can try to recover that money from you. This is called restitution. If Victims Services seeks restitution from you, they will send you a document called an Order for Restitution (previously called Provisional Orders).
If you receive an Order for Restitution, you will need to respond within 28 days. Before you respond, you should get legal advice.