FINE. This word has various significations. It is employed, 1. To mean a sum of money, which, by judgment of a competent jurisdiction, is required to be paid for the punishment of an offence. 2. To designate the amount paid by the tenant, on his entrance, to the lord. 3. To signify a special kind of conveyance.
FINE, conveyance, Practice. An amicable composition or agreement of a suit, either actual or fictitious, by leave of the court, by which the lands in question become, or are acknowledged to be the right of one of the parties. Co. Litt. 120; 2 Bl. Com. 349; Bac. Abr. Fines and Recoveries. A fine is so called, because it puts an end, not only to the suit thus commenced, but also to all other suits and controversies concerning the same matter. Such concords, says Doddridge, (Eng. Lawyer, 84, 85,) have been in use in the civil law, and are called transactions (q. v.) whereof they say thus: Transactiones sunt de eis quae in controversia sunt, a, lite futura aut pendente ad certam compositionem reducuntur, dando aliquid vel accipiendo. Or shorter, thus: Transactio est de re dubia et lite ancipite ne dum ad finem ducta, non gratuita pactio. It is commonly defined an assurance by matter of record, and is founded upon a supposed previously existing right, and upon a writ requiring the party to perform his covenant; although a fine may be levied upon any writ by which lands may be demanded, charged, or bound. It has also been defined an acknowledgment on record of a previous gift or feoffment, and prima facie carries a fee, although it may be limited to an estate for life or in fee tail. Prest. on Convey. 200, 202, 268, 269 2 Bl. Com. 348-9.
2. The stat. 18 E. I., called modus levandi fines, declares and regulates the manner in which they should be levied and carried on and that is as follows: 1. The party to whom the land is conveyed or assured, commences an action at law against the other, generally an action of covenant, by suing out of a writ of praecipe, called a writ of covenant, that the one shall convey the lands to the other, on the breach of which agreement the action is brought. The suit being thus commenced, then follows,
2. The licentia concordandi, or leave to compromise the suit. 3. The concord or agreement itself, after leave obtained by the court; this is usually an acknowledgment from the deforciants, that the lands in question are the lands of the complainants. 4. The note of the fine, which is only an abstract of the writ of covenant, and the concord naming the parties, the parcels of land, and the agreement. 5. The foot of the fine or the conclusion of it, which includes the whole matter, reciting the parties, day, year, and place, and before whom it was acknowledged or levied.
3. Fines thus levied, are of four kinds. 1. What in law French is called a fine sur cognizance de droit, come ceo que il ad de son done; or a fine upon the acknowledgment of the right of the cognizee, as that which he has of the gift of the cognizor. This fine is called a feoffment of record. 2. A fine sur cognizance de droit tantum, or acknowledgment of the right merely. 3. A fine sur concessit, is where the cognizor, in order to make an end of disputes, though he acknowledges no precedent right, yet grants to the consignee an estate de novo, usually for life or years, by way of a supposed composition. 4. A fine sur done grant et render, which is a double fine, comprehending the fine sur cognizance de droit come ceo, &c., and the fine sur concessit; and may be used to convey particular limitations of estate, and to persons who are strangers, or not named in the writ of the covenant, whereas the fine sur cognizance de droit come ceo &c., conveys nothing but an absolute estate either of inheritance, or at least of freehold. Salk. 340. In this last species of fines, the cognizee, after the right is acknowledged to be in him, grants back again, or renders to the cognizor, or perhaps to a stranger some other estate in the premises. 2 Bl. Com. 348 to 358. See Cruise on Fines; Vin. Abr. Fine; Sheph. Touch. c. 2; Bac. Ab. Fines and Recoveries; Com. Dig. Fine.
FINE, criminal law. Pecuniary punishment imposed by a lawful tribunal, upon a person convicted of crime or misdemeanor. See Shep. Touchs. 2; Bac. Abr. Fines and Amercements.
2. The amount of the fine is frequently left to the discretion of the court, who ought to proportion the fine to the offence. To prevent the abuse of excessive fines, the Constitution of the United States directs that "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Amendm. to the Constitution, art. 8. See Division of opinion.