Sentences vs. fines
I was looking thru the Fairfax County health code, to see what I can threaten my landlord with, and I found at the end of the section on health code violations, it said that violation could be punished by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
I've noticed this pattern consistently: For every crime, there is usually a "sentence and/or fine" penalty, with the sentence being much, much, MUCH more severe than the fine. For instance, on NPR I recently heard that some company executive convincted of some crime faced "up to 5 years in prison, or a fine of up to $2,000", IIRC. This isn't just a pattern; it's a rule. You ALWAYS find that the sentence is much, much higher than the fine.
This might make sense if the rule were that the person must pay the fine, and if unable to pay the fine, serve the sentence. An evil sense, that said that poor people should be punished much more severely than rich people, but still some kind of sense. But that isn't how it works. It's at the judge's discretion.
So why is this?