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Pecuniary punishment imposed by a lawful tribunal, upon a person convicted of crime or misdemeanor. The amount of the fine is frequently left to the discretion of the court, who ought to proportion the fine to the offense. 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.”


At the time the Constitution was adopted, 'the word 'fine' was understood to mean a payment to a sovereign as punishment for some offense.' Browning-Ferris Industries of Vt., Inc. v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U. S. 257, 265 (1989). 

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