Special Circumstances


You may be eligible to have an infringement notice withdrawn or an enforcement order cancelled if there are special circumstances, such as a drug addiction or homelessness.

What are special circumstances?

The term 'special circumstances' is defined in the Infringements Act 2006. This may apply to you if at the time you got the fine:

1. You had a mental or intellectual condition, or a serious addiction to drugs or alcohol, that meant you:

  • didn't understand that the behaviour was against the law, or
  • couldn't control the behaviour that was against the law (even if you knew it was against the law)

 

2. You were homeless and your homelessness meant that you couldn't control the behaviour that was against the law (even if you knew it was against the law).

Note: Homelessness can include staying in crisis accommodation, living in transitional housing, couch surfing or sleeping rough.


Am I eligible?

In order to qualify for special circumstances you must:

1. have a mental health condition or addiction or be homeless and

2. explain how this condition or circumstance caused the infringement and

3. provide evidence to support your claim.


What kind of evidence is required?

You must provide a statement from your health practitioner or case worker that explains how your special circumstances meant you could not obey the law.

Statements can be accepted from relevant practitioners, including but not limited to:

1. In the case of a mental illness, disability or disorder:

  • Doctor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse

 

2. In the case of a serious addiction to drugs, alcohol, or a volatile substance 

  • Doctor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse
  • Drug treatment agency or drug counsellor

 

3. In the case of Homelessness 

  • Case worker or case manager
  • Agency such as Salvation Army, Hanover, St Vincent's (or other agency funded under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 1994 (Cth))

 

There is no restriction on the format of the statement, however your practitioner or case worker should include their qualifications and relationship with you.

The statement must:

  • give a diagnosis of your medical or mental health condition for the past 12 months
  • demonstrate that you were suffering from this condition at the time of the offence
  • demonstrate how this condition affects your daily life and contributed to you receiving an infringement notice be signed and dated within the last 12 months

 

Your practitioner or case worker must also address the following questions:

1. What is the diagnosis?

  • What is the nature and severity of the illness or condition?
  • How long have you had the illness or condition? Please specify dates if possible.

 

2. Has the illness, condition or addiction resulted in you being unable to either understand or control the conduct that constitutes the offence?

  • Were you suffering and/or diagnosed with the illness or condition at the time of committing the offences?
  • If so, how did the illness or condition contribute to the offence?
  • Are you taking medication, or undergoing any treatment or rehabilitation?

 

3. Is there any other relevant information?

 

In relation to homelessness the statement or letter must:

  • include details of current living arrangements (if any)
  • give details of period of homelessness
  • demonstrate how this circumstance contributed to your receiving an infringement notice
  • provide any additional information that may assist the Infringements Court
  • be signed and dated within the last 12 months.

 

When completing the statement the following questions must also be addressed:

1. What are your current living arrangements?

  • How long have you been homeless?
  • Were you homeless at the time of the offence?

 

2. Has homelessness resulted in you being unable to control your conduct that constitutes the offence?

  • If so, how did the homelessness contribute to the offences?
  • Do (or did) you suffer from any other illnesses that may be relevant in determining whether you were able to control or prevent the conduct for which the infringement was issued?
  • If so, are you taking medication or undergoing any treatment or rehabilitation?

 

3. Is there any other relevant information?

 

Exceptional circumstances

Applications may be made on the basis of 'exceptional circumstances'. This term is not defined in the Infringements Act and applications may be made on any basis.

If a person wishes to claim exceptional circumstances on the basis of medical or health reasons, they will require supporting evidence from their practitioner to show that because of particular circumstances they should be excused from liability to pay the infringement.

 

How do I apply?


The method for applying depends on how far your fine has progressed within the infringements process (infringement notice, penalty reminder notice, enforcement order or infringement warrant).

The best way to identify the current status of your fine is to check your most recent notice (for example, the title at the top of the form may indicate "Infringement Notice - to The Operator" or "Enforcement Order Notice").


If you have an infringement notice or penalty reminder notice:

You must complete an internal review form.

Please send your completed form, along with all original documents, to the agency that issued your fine (refer to your most recent notice for agency contact details).

For more information about internal reviews, please visit the Request an Internal Review page of this website.

Checklist (infringement notice or penalty reminder notice stage):

  • Completed internal review form (signed and dated)
  • Details of mental or medical disorder, addiction or homelessness
  • Evidence supporting your application for special circumstances

 

If you have an enforcement order or infringement warrant:

You must complete an application for revocation.

Please send your completed application, with all original documents, to:

Infringements Court
Special Circumstances Registrar
PO Box 14487
MELBOURNE VIC 8001

Please note: without supporting documents your application will not be able to be considered by the Infringements Court

Checklist (enforcement order or infringement warrant stage):

  • Completed internal review form (signed and dated)
  • Details of mental or medical disorder, addiction or homelessness
  • Evidence supporting your application for special circumstances

 

What happens after you apply?

If your application is granted, the Infringements Court will:

  • revoke the enforcement order,
  • send confirmation of the outcome to you in the mail,
  • refer your matter to the 'special circumstances' list in the Magistrates' Court for determination, and
  • refer the matter to the agency that issued the original fine for their consideration.

 

The issuing agency can decide to withdraw the fine, or refer the fine to the Magistrates' Court for hearing. The Magistrates' Court will advise you of the hearing date.

If your application is refused, the Infringements Court will:

  • continue enforcement action
  • send confirmation of the outcome to you in the mail
  • tell you how much you need to pay and when you need to pay it by (depending on your application, the Infringements Court may decide to vary the outstanding amount owing on your fine).


How to refer your matter to the Magistrates Court

If you're unhappy with the outcome of your application, you can write to the Infringements Court requesting that your matter be referred to the Magistrates Court for final determination.

Your letter must include:

  • your name and address
  • your obligation number

 

You should send your objection within 28 days of the date in your notice.

Send your letter to:
The Infringements Registrar
PO Box 14487
Melbourne 8001

Who can provide legal assistance?

If you are applying for special circumstances it is recommended that you seek legal advice:

 

If you require further information about applications you can contact Civic Compliance Victoria® by phone 9200 8111 or visit Ground Floor, 277 William Street, Melbourne.

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