Higher earners will face increased fines for minor offences, if government plans become law.
Fine calculations could consider an offender's daily disposable income
A scheme for calculating fines that would take into account an offender's income is proposed in the Management of Offenders Bill, published on Thursday.
Under the bill, the maximum fine for an offence like failing to stop after an accident would triple to £15,000.
The Tories said the aim was to make the middle classes pay for the government's failure to manage the justice system.
The government said it was fair that better-off people paid more than those who earned less.
Courts already consider an offender's ability to pay when setting fines.
But BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said: "The new scheme will include a more explicit calculation of the offender's daily disposable income."
Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the new system of "day fines" would be based on an offender's ability to pay as well as on the seriousness of the offence.
The maximum fine in a magistrates' court will rise to £15,000 for an adult, from £1,000 to £3,000 for offenders aged 14 to 17 and from £250 to £750 for under-14s.
The Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill will also attempt to make judges more aware of prison capacity and the effectiveness of various punishments when sentencing.
But shadow home secretary David Davis criticised the plans.
He said: "Those who deserve to be in prison should be in prison - sentencing should be determined by the crime not by the number of prison places available."