By Sanette Viljoen
An admission of guilt fine is a method used in law to relieve the pressure on overloaded court rolls. This fine is offered by the South African Police (SAPS) as an option to the arrested person for a less serious offense.
This fine can be paid even before the person has to appear in court. The person is also released immediately after payment. For this reason the public is under the impression that the admission of guilt fine is a quick and easy way out not to spend a night in the cells. However, this fine has serious implications that should first be seriously considered.
The admission of guilt fine should not be confused with the amount a person pays to be released on bail. If a person pays an admission of guilt fine he in reality pleads guilty to the offense and gets a criminal record. The SAPS may not force or compel a person to pay this fine. As soon as the person’s finger prints have been taken and a formal dossier opened, the person will get a criminal record if he pays the fine. Paying a normal speeding fine, however, does not fall under this rule and will not land you with a criminal record.
Should you get a criminal record because you paid an admission of guilt fine, this record will remain valid for 10 years. Should the admission of guilt fine appear on your SAP69 (criminal record), it has serious implications. You will, for instance, have problems getting a visa to go overseas, find it difficult to get a firearm licence and even have problems applying for a new job.
Therefore, be careful before choosing the easy option of an admission of guilt fine. First consult your attorney and familiarise yourself with the consequences.