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Certain crimes may be punishable only by a monetary fine. In other cases, a fine may be levied as part of the final sentence that may include a period of incarceration. In the United States fines are typically fixed and are reserved for low-level crimes such as traffic or parking tickets.

In many civil law countries fines play a much more significant role. In these countries, fines are regarded as a significant deterrent, even for violent crimes. Germany and Sweden have imposed "day fines", flexible fine schedules that can be custom tailored to the defendant's financial means. Day Fines are currently used in Austria, Cuba, Denmark, Finald, Germany, and Sweden.

See Sentencing