Anyone who fails to pay a fine must serve an alternative term of imprisonment. Until now, the rule was that one day’s imprisonment was served for every day’s fine imposed. This will now change.
According to § 43 S. 1 StGB, an irrecoverable fine will be replaced by a custodial sentence. This means that if the convicted person does not pay the fine imposed on him, a custodial sentence can be enforced against him.
According to the provision of Section 43 p. 2 StGB, one day’s sentence is equivalent to one day’s imprisonment.
According to the previous legal situation, a substitute custodial sentence was therefore enforced at a ratio of 1:1. For each daily sentence, the convicted person had to serve one day in custody. For example, if he had been sentenced to a fine of 60 daily rates, he had to spend 60 days in custody.
This legal regulation has been highly controversial for years. Thus, according to the principle of guilt enshrined in the constitution, the punishment must not exceed the measure of guilt.
The reason for this is the fact that a custodial sentence is a significantly stronger sanction in comparison to a monetary penalty In addition, in many cases the substitute custodial sentence is only enforced due to poor economic circumstances. Convicted persons who are financially unable to serve the fine are thus placed at a considerable disadvantage.
At the end of June this year, the Bundestag decided – after extensive debate – to amend the criminal sanctions law and, among other things, to halve the conversion rate from fine to alternative custody. If a defendant has been sentenced to a fine of 60 daily rates, he will now only have to spend 30 days in alternative custody.
Furthermore, sentenced persons are to be supported in avoiding a substitute custodial sentence. In future, those affected must be expressly informed of the possibility of performing community service as an alternative to imprisonment. In the context of supplements to enforcement law, more social work measures should also take place, by means of which, for example, the possibility of an installment payment agreement with the convicted person can be pursued.
The amendment should come into force on October 1, 2023.
Due to previously necessary adjustments in the area of IT, the halving of the alternative custodial sentence was postponed by four months. Thus, implementation of the necessary conversions in the computer systems of the federal states, in particular the modules of the penalty period calculation in the used specialized procedure “web.sta”, should only be possible by 01.02.2024.