Author: Phillip Gibson
Bankstown Local Court Represented by Solicitor: Phillip Gibson, Partner, Accredited Specialist Criminal Law
Case Facts: In early 2012 our client was charged with 2 counts of Driving Whilst Suspended. He avoided a conviction and was given a Section 10 bond for the first count of being a suspended driver but was convicted and received a Section 9 bond for the second matter. In late 2012 and early 2013 our client then drove whilst disqualified.
These 2 disqualified driving charges were to be heard together. Each offence was a breach of the Section 10 and Section 9 bonds.
Our client was a young man, 18 years old at the time of sentence. He had experienced a traumatic period in his life when he was 16 when his father died. It was soon after the death of his father that he committed the first of the offences. He had no other criminal record, however his driving record reflected the two driving suspended matters with in the previous 5 years.
Potential Penalties: As a result of the conviction on the matter for which he received a section 9 good behaviour bond, the current offences attracted higher penalties which include a fine on each matter of up to $5,500 as well as a mandatory minimum disqualification period of 2 years and up to 2 years imprisonment (on each offence). In addition, a conviction on both of the disqualified driving offences would automatically attract a Habitual Offender Declaration and 5 years disqualification, for each offence. As if that was not bad enough, being in breach of the good behaviour bonds meant that he could have been convicted on the section 10 matter (suspended driving) and handed a 12 month disqualification and a 2 year disqualification on the section 9 matter, to run concurrently.
The Sentence Proceedings: Our client pleaded guilty to the 2 new offences of Driving Whilst Disqualified. He was in breach of the Section 10 and Section 9 bonds that had been imposed earlier. The Magistrate ordered that these matters be called up and he be re-sentenced for these matters. The client had received some counselling following the death of his father but a report from a forensic psychologist convinced The Magistrate to grant our client an adjournment for a period of six months by way of a Section 11 Bond (formerly referred to as a Griffith Remand and sometimes referred to as a rehabilitation bond) to see if he could go for that time without re-offending. Basically the Magistrate was giving our client a chance to show his rehabilitation and that there was a low risk of re-offending.
Case Result – When the matter came back before the Magistrate, Mr Gibson appeared for our client. The first issue to deal with was the breach of the Section 10 and Section 9 bonds. Mr Gibson successfully argued that the Magistrate should take no action on either of those bonds. To do so would have added at least two years to the period of disqualification that our client was facing. The Magistrate was persuaded that taking into account the evidence in the psychologist report and the lack of offending during the adjournment that it was appropriate to take no action on the Good Behaviour Bonds. This meant that there was no additional disqualification added for those matters.
In relation to the first charge of Drive Whilst Disqualified the Magistrate placed our client on a Section 9 bond and in relation to the second Drive Whilst Disqualified charge he received a short suspended gaol sentence pursuant to section 12 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. The Magistrate disqualified our client from driving for the absolute minimum that the law allows being 2 years on each matter, however the Magistrate was persuaded to quash the Habitual Offender Declaration which saved 10 years of licence disqualification. At the beginning of the proceedings our client was facing the possibility of being disqualified for 16 years. The end result was that our client’s licence was disqualified for the absolute minimum that the law provided being 4 years. We could not have achieved a better result for our client in these circumstances.