By Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM)
The contravention of the rules and regulations of the Disaster Management Act has resulted in many arrests being made by our South African Police Service during lockdown.
Admission of guilt fine
Any person who contravenes specific regulations as stipulated in the Act may subsequently be arrested. If the person is then found guilty in court, jail time and/ or the payment of a fine may follow.
However, a person arrested for a less serious offence may be offered the option of paying an admission of guilt fine straight away. The idea is to lessen the congested court load, however, in many instances the accused only pays this fine to secure his/ her release and to avoid spending the night in a police cell. The impression is often created that it is the easier and more affordable way out for the arrested individual.
It is important to remember that an admission of guilt fine will result in a criminal record. This criminal record will be valid for a period of 10 years. Serious consequences of having a criminal record include difficulty securing employment, applying for a firearm license or obtaining a travel visa, to name but a few. The nature of many jobs in South Africa require a clean record and any person may possibly be dismissed for having a criminal record.
High Court application
In the event that a person was unaware of the consequences of paying an admission of guilt fine, he/ she may approach the High Court with an application to clear his/ her name. Unfortunately these applications are very expensive and there is furthermore no guarantee of the application being successful.
*Legal Hero Policyholders are encouraged to call our offices for legal advice prior to signing an admission of guilt fine.
Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM) from Legal Hero