Source: (2006) In, Crime Policy in Europe, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing pp. 127-137

Numerically the fine is the most important penal sanction [in Germany] as it is imposed in about 82% of all cases. The Penal Code has created a day-fine system in which one "day-fine" corresponds to one day spent in prison. Section 43 of the Penal Code provides for a maximum of 360 day-fines and for up to 720 day-fines in exceptional cases, such as an accumulation of offences. In practice, 96% of all fines do not exceed ninety day-fines. The amount imposed for a day depends on the financial capacity of the offender. Until the beginning of the 1990s, approximately 6% to 7% of the fines were converted into prison sentences because the fine was not paid (Kaiser 1997, p. 436). Since the early 1980s, "free work" (community service) may be substituted for imprisonment as an alternative to imprisonment for failing to pay a fine. Such a substitution may be made by the judicial administration. Generally, the administration of this alternative is the duty of the social workers who are attached to the courts and who arrange for community service. One day-fine is regarded as the equivalent of six to eight hours of community service. (excerpt)