If a person is found guilty of a criminal offence, a matter will proceed to sentencing where the judge will decide which punishment is most appropriate.

The judge can choose from a range of penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence, which are contained within the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).

 

Section 10 dismissal without conviction

Under section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act  the court can dismiss the charge and no conviction will be recorded. This is the most lenient penalty.

 

Conditional Release Order (CRO)

Under section 10(1)(b) of the Act the court can dismiss the charge and not record a conviction. However, the accused will be placed on a Conditional Release Order (CRO), which is like a good behaviour bond. A court can impose a CRO for up to two years. This penalty acts as a warning and it is intended for low-level offending.

A CRO consists of two standard conditions:

(1) The offender must not commit any further offences, and

(2) They must appear at court if requested.

It can also include any of the following conditions:

  • Supervision by a community corrections officer.
  • Participation in a rehabilitation or treatment program.
  • Abstinence from alcohol or drugs.
  • Non-association with particular people.
  • A requirement not to go to a particular place or area.
  • Further conditions the court sees fit (but not home detention, electronic monitoring, a curfew or community service work).

Under section 9(1)(a), the court can also impose a CRO and record a conviction.

 

Intervention plan without conviction

Under section 10(1)(c) the court can dismiss the charge and not record a conviction. However, the offender will be required to participate in, and comply with, an intervention program. This penalty aims to reduce the likelihood of future offending behaviour.

 

Conviction with no other penalty

Under section 10A the offender is convicted of the offence and will have a criminal record, however no other penalty is imposed. This penalty is available for circumstances where the offence is trivial or minor in nature, and the court decides that no further penalty is required.

 

Fine

Under division 4, a court can impose a fine which is expressed as a number of “penalty units”. A penalty unit is currently equal to $110.  If you are fined, a conviction will also be recorded. An offender can be fined and receive another penalty.

 

Community Corrections Order (CCO)

Under section 8 a court can impose a Community Corrections Order (CCO) for up to three years. A conviction will be recorded, and the offender will be required to comply with a number of conditions. The court can impose harsher conditions under a CCO than they can under a CRO. However, CCOs are a flexible sentence that can be tailored to reflect the needs of the offender and the nature of the criminality.

A CCO consists of two standard conditions:

(1) The offender must not commit any further offences, and

(2) They must appear at court if requested.

A CCO can also include any of the following conditions:

  • Supervision by a community corrections officer.
  • A curfew (not exceeding 12 hours a day).
  • Community service work of no more than 500 hours.
  • Participation in a rehabilitation or treatment program.
  • Abstinence from alcohol or drugs.
  • Non-association with particular people.
  • A requirement not to go to a particular place or area.
  • Further conditions the court sees fit (but not home detention or electronic monitoring).

 

Intensive Correction Order (ICO)

Under section 7 a court can impose an Intensive Correction Order (ICO), which is effectively a prison sentence served in the community under certain conditions. ICOs place emphasis on control and surveillance, and can impose harsher conditions than under a CCO. An ICO can not be imposed for longer than two years, and not more than three years for multiple offences.

An ICO consists of two standard conditions:

(1) The offender must not commit any further offences, and

(2) They must submit to the supervision by Community Corrections.

An ICO must also impose at least one of the following conditions:

  • Home detention.
  • Electronic monitoring.
  • A curfew.
  • Community service work of no more than 750 hours.
  • Participation in a rehabilitation or treatment program.
  • Abstinence from alcohol or drugs or both.
  • Non-association with particular people.
  • A requirement not to go to a particular place or area.

 

Prison

Prison is the harshest penalty and will only be imposed for the most serious offences where the court believes that no other penalty would be appropriate.

In the Local Court, the longest sentence is two years imprisonment for each offence, and a maximum of five years in total for all of the offences combined. However, these sentences can be much higher in the District Court depending on the maximum sentence available under the legislation.

 

Parole periods

Prison sentences over six months are usually divided into two parts, a parole period and a non-parole period. A non-parole period is the minimum time that an offender must spend in prison. During the parole period, an offender can apply for release but if it is not granted they must remain in prison until their sentence is served.

The court must impose a non-parole period that is at least three-quarters of the full sentence unless there are “special circumstances”. Some serious offences have standard non-parole periods already determined by legislation which judges can consider, but do not have to impose.

 

How can we help?

In some cases involving serious offences, a criminal penalty is inevitable. We are experienced in obtaining the most favourable penalties for our clients given the circumstances, and may be able to help you avoid a criminal conviction with a section 10.

Book a free consultation or call us on 1300 668 484 for 24/7 legal advice.

Criminal Penalties FAQs

What happens if an order is breached?

Conditional Release Order and Community Corrections Order

If you breach a condition of your Conditional Release Order or Community Corrections Order, you will be brought before the court. The court could choose to take no action, vary or revoke the conditions of the order, or revoke the order itself. If the court revokes the order, then you will be re-sentenced on the “old matter” in addition to the sentence for the “fresh matter”.  In these circumstances, you will likely receive a harsher punishment.

Intensive Correction Order

If you breach your Intensive Correction Order (ICO) conditions, there could be a number of responses taken by the State Parole Authority or Community Corrections. The breach will likely be formally recorded, you may be given a formal warning, and the conditions of the ICO could be varied. At worst, the ICO could be revoked which means you will have to serve the rest of your sentence in prison. Further, if you breach the ICO by way of committing fresh offences, the ICO could be revoked and you will have to stay in prison until your matter is finalised, even if you plead not guilty.

Sentencing discounts for indictable offences

Entering a plea of guilty for an indictable offence can automatically reduce a prison sentence.  This is called the “utilitarian discount”, and applies because the accused is said to have contributed to the efficiency of the criminal justice system by not taking their matter to trial. The size of the reduction depends on when the accused entered their plea of guilty.

The discounts are:

  • 25% if you plead guilty in the Local Court before the end of the committal process.
  • 10% if you plead guilty up to 14 days before the trial is scheduled to begin.
  • 5% if you plead guilty less than 14 days before the trial is scheduled to begin, or during the trial.

What is a section 10?

A section 10 refers to a dismissal without conviction order, conditional release order without conviction, and/or an intervention plan without conviction.

Section 10 orders are a criminal penalty that can be imposed by a judge during sentencing. Under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act a court can find the accused guilty of the offence without recording a criminal conviction. These orders can be made with or without conditions.

Which penalties no longer apply?

As a result of new legislation many old penalties were repealed in 2018. Penalties which were repealed include:

Community service order:  This penalty required the offender to volunteer in the community or undertake a course. These orders have been incorporated in Community Correction Orders and Intensive Correction Orders.

Good behaviour bond: This penalty required the offender be of good behaviour, and adhere to specific conditions set out by the court, for a specific period of time.  Good behaviour bonds have been replaced by Community Correction Orders.

Home detention: This penalty was an alternative to prison, where the offender served their sentence at home subject to surveillance and electronic monitoring. Home detention can now be included as a condition of an Intensive Correction Order.

Suspended sentence: This penalty was a jail sentence suspended on the condition that the offender entered into a good behaviour bond. This meant that the offender didn’t have to serve their sentence in prison, provided they obeyed the conditions of the bond.