What is the victim fine surcharge?

1. Check if the victim fine surcharge applies

To figure out if the victim fine surcharge (VFS) applies to you, you need to know the date you were sentenced. This date will be on the court papers you got at your sentencing . If you don't have these papers, go to the clerk's office at the court your case was decided and ask for a copy of your sentencing documents.

If you were sentenced on or before December 13, 2018

You must pay the VFS. If the due date has not passed and you need more time, you may be able to ask for an extension of time to pay the fine. If you have a lot of old unpaid VFS and cannot pay them, talk to a lawyer. You may have a Charter argument.

If you were sentenced on or after December 14, 2018, for a crime you committed before July 22, 2019

The court cannot order you to pay the VFS. This is because of a Supreme Court of Canada decision that said ordering everyone to pay the VFS as part of their is not fair. If this is your situation, talk to a lawyer. You may have the right to appeal this part of your sentence.

If you are sentenced for a crime you on or after July 22, 2019

After the Supreme Court decision, the law changed in 2019 so that the VFS is no longer automatically ordered as part of a sentence. Now a judge decides whether you should pay the VFS and how much, based on what is fair. You, your lawyer, or can also ask the judge not to order the VFS or to reduce the amount.

Before deciding, the judge looks at whether paying the fine would stress you financially. But, if your sentence includes jail time, the judge looks at things like whether you're:

  • homeless
  • poor
  • Indigenous
  • supporting other people financially

The judge can also decide to waive the VFS based on the type of crime and the degree of responsibility of the offender. For example, if you or are of not going to court, and this happened because you're a drug addict, the court might not order the VFS because of the minor nature of the crime and because of your disability.

If you were ordered to pay the VFS and you think it's not fair, talk to a lawyer about appealing your sentence.

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