The offender levy is an administrative fee paid by an offender (other than a child) found guilty in a Queensland court.
The levy applies to the offences in the Magistrates, District or Supreme Courts and becomes payable once you are sentenced. The levy is separate to your sentence and applies whether or not a conviction is recorded. The levy doesn’t apply to re-hearings or appeals.
What is the offender levy?
The offender levy is an administrative fee paid by an offender (other than a child) who is found or pleads guilty in a Queensland court.
The levy becomes payable once you are convicted (whether or not a conviction is recorded) in the Magistrates, District or Supreme Courts. It is imposed for each sentencing event. If you’re being sentenced for more than one offence in the same proceeding, you will only have to pay the levy once. If you’re charged with multiple offences and choose to be sentenced over two or more days, a levy will be imposed after each proceeding.
The court doesn’t choose whether or not to impose the levy and doesn’t take the levy or your ability to pay into consideration when deciding your sentence. Most of the time, you won’t even hear it mentioned in court.
The offender levy is separate from your sentence, and applies whether your conviction is recorded or not. If your sentence includes a fine, this is separate to the offender levy. The levy cannot be converted to a fine option order or imprisonment.
If you are re-sentenced for the same offence, you won’t have to pay the offender levy again. However, if you contravene a requirement of a previous sentence (for example breaching your probation order), this is a new offence and if you’re found guilty, you’ll have to pay a new levy (this does not apply to offences under the Bail Act).
The levy doesn’t apply to re-hearings or appeals. In fact, if you have lodged an appeal against your conviction or sentence, you don’t have to pay it unless you have a conviction remaining after your appeal decision.
Does it affect my penalty or sentence?
The offender levy is separate from your penalty or sentence. The court won’t consider the payment of an offender levy when deciding your penalty or sentence. See Possible penalties and sentences.
Offender levy and court diversion for a minor drug offence
You’ll still have to pay the offender levy if you go to court diversion for a minor drug offence.
If you’re found guilty of an offence in a Queensland court, you will have to pay the offender levy in addition to any penalty or sentence you receive. This applies even if no conviction is recorded. See Court diversion for a minor drugs offence.
Offender levy and pleading guilty online
If pleading guilty online, you’ll still have to pay the offender levy. If you’re given a sentence in a Queensland court, you have to pay the offender levy whether you appear in person or not.
For information about pleading guilty online see Criminal cases in the magistrates court or pleading guilty online.
Offender levy and contesting a traffic infringement
You’ll be charged the offender levy if you unsuccessfully contest a traffic infringement, and are found guilty. This will be additional to any fine, summons cost and witness expenses (if any).
If you’re successful in contesting the traffic infringement, and found not guilty, you won’t have to pay the offender levy.
Get legal advice before contesting a traffic infringement.
How much is the offender levy?
The amount of the levy is set out in the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2015, and depends on which court you are sentenced in.
If you’re sentenced in the Magistrates court, the levy is currently $133.60.
If you’re sentenced in the Supreme or district court, the is currently $400.30.
The offender levy can be changed by regulation. Check the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2015 to confirm the levy amount.
Failure to pay the levy
If you don’t pay all of the levy to the court at the time you are sentenced, your details will be registered with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER).
You can contact SPER to make a payment plan. The levy cannot be converted to a fine option order or imprisonment.
If you owe money to the court for compensation, restitution, damages or some other penalty, the money paid to the court or SPER will go towards those unpaid debts before you pay off the offender levy.
Appealing the offender levy
You can’t appeal the imposition of an offender levy.
What can I do if the offender levy is incorrectly applied?
Contact the registry of the court that applied the levy as soon as is possible if you think the levy has been incorrectly applied (eg you have had two levies applied and you believe there should have only been one).
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if:
- you think the offender levy has been incorrectly applied; and/or
- you can’t afford to pay the offender levy and want advice about your options.
Get legal advice
We give advice on most areas of criminal law.
If you have been charged with a more serious offence or have a complicated matter, you can apply for a grant of legal aid (if eligible), or get private representation. We will then assess your application for legal aid against our guidelines to determine whether legal aid should be granted.
These services may also be able to give you with legal advice or help.
Community legal centres - many CLCs provide free legal advice and information on criminal law matters. Check with them to see if they can help with your matter.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation on criminal law matters.
Who else can help?
These organisations may also be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.
Queensland courts has information for people going to court (defendants and witnesses) and general information about the different types of courts in Queensland, eg Magistrates, District, Supreme, Mental Health Court, Childrens court, Coroners court, and more.
State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) is responsible for the collection and enforcement of unpaid infringement notice fines, court ordered monetary fines and Offender Recovery orders issued in Queensland. You can make a SPER payment plan to pay in instalments each week/fortnight/month.