Let’s get this out of the way. Court-ordered fines and surcharges do not go away, ever. They will always be considered outstanding fines.
There seems to be a common misconception that the courts will track a person down and force them to pay outstanding fine. This is false.
The court has no obligation to chase after a person who has been given a fine, restitution, compensation order, or surcharge in conjunction with a criminal conviction.
On the day that you were sentenced, you (or your lawyer) were given a document that instructed you how to pay your debt to the courts. That was your official notice and is sometimes the only warning a person will receive.
Some courts do send out reminders but many do not. And even those courts that do send out notices will eventually give up on a person. This only means that the court has decided that it has better things to do than to chase after you. It does not negate the fact that you were ordered to pay the fine in the first place.
Perhaps the confusion lies in that sentencing documents often iterate that failure to pay a fine will result in serving a certain number of days in jail.
This very rarely happens. The police cannot see whether a criminal fine has been paid or not on their systems so if they pull you over for speeding, for instance, they do not necessarily see anything relating to that fine you received in court.
We understand that it can be difficult to remember whether a fine was paid 20, 30, or even 40 years ago. If we discover that you have an outstanding amount with the courts during the course of our investigations, we will advise you immediately and, while your pardon may be delayed because of an unpaid fine, you will not “lose” the processing fees that you have already paid toward your file.
We simply place a hold on your file until you meet the pardon eligibility criteria established by the Parole Board and will submit your pardon at that time.
When applying for a pardon you must not owe anything to the courts or to any victims involved in your conviction or your pardon will be delayed. Whether you contact the courts yourself or you have us do it for you, you will have to face these financial burdens at some point.
Do not assume that fines have been forgotten. They are on the books somewhere and they have a habit of turning up at the most inopportune times.