Lockdown fine means a criminal record

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Handcuffs. (PHOTO: Getty/Gallo Images)
Handcuffs. (PHOTO: Getty/Gallo Images)

Do not risk breaking the lockdown regulations or you may just end up with a criminal record.

If you do, you could very well be jeopardising your future job prospects or a chance of relocating abroad.

Paying an admission of guilt fine will most likely brand you as having a previous conviction.

Attorney Wesley Rogers said that aside from arresting people for transgressing, police can issue two types of notices.

The first is an an admission of guilt fine, which sets out the contravention and states a fine amount. “So, if you want to dispute the allegations you can appear in court on the date stipulated,” he said.

Depending on the severity of the offence, the fine can either be paid at the police station or court. For serious offences, it must be paid at the nearest court.

If paid at the court, the person’s fingerprints will be taken and the person will get a previous conviction.

However, if it is paid at a station, the fingerprints may or may not be taken.

“This is a bit of a grey area. In terms of the law, technically they don’t need prints to record a conviction. The admission can be submitted by police to the local criminal record centre.”

Rogers said he is unable to get clarity whether fingerprints are taken at the stations for those who break the lockdown rules or not.

The other notice being issued simply gives one a court date with no option to pay a fine.

However, when the person goes to court, he/she may speak to the prosecutor and pay an admission of guilt fine.

In this instance you do not appear in front of a magistrate. But, you do get a previous conviction.

Rogers advised that if one is issued with an admission of guilt fine, one should get legal advice before admitting to anything.

“I had a client who was stopped while going to the dentist. She told the officers where she was going and they confirmed her appointment. However, police said the dentist was not supposed to be open. My client was arrested”.

He added that some police officers seem to be misunderstanding their own regulations and the limits of their powers.

“The burden of proof in a criminal matter remains on the state, that is, the State must prove you breached the regulations without good cause or justification,” he said.

A previous conviction can damage your chances of future employment.

“If you apply for work visas, 90% of countries would deny you one based on your criminal record. America will not accept anyone with a record”.

Retired state advocate Johan du Toit said that “every admission of guilt fine is a previous conviction”.

Some stations rigidly enforce them, while others don’t. It is enforced when a person’s fingerprints are taken at the police station, he added.


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