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Types Of Sentences - Court

Types of Sentences

This information sheet will give you a plain English explanation of types of sentences and ‘sections’ under the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act in New South Wales.

Section 10 means there is a guilty plea but no criminal conviction is recorded. The matter could be dismissed by the court. Alternatively, a good behaviour bond might be issued. The court may also direct the person to participate in an intervention program (a particular type of education, treatment or rehabilitation plan). If someone breaches a section 10 bond or intervention order, they are likely to reappear before the court to face re-sentencing for the original offence.

For a section 10 the court will take into account:

  • the person’s character, personal history and any relevant circumstances before the offence happened, age, health and mental condition
  • the trivial nature of the offence
  • any extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed
  • any other matter the court thinks should be considered.

Good behaviour bonds or section 9 can last up to five years and usually have conditions attached. The conditions are decided by the court and must relate to the crime without being unduly harsh, unreasonable or needlessly onerous. If the matter is in the Children’s Court a bond can last a maximum of two years. Good behaviour bonds do appear as a criminal conviction on future paperwork.

Intensive Correctional Orders (ICO) or section 7 can be issued if a person has committed crimes that are punished by a sentence of less than two years. An ICO can also apply to certain sex offences, or if someone is assessed by Corrective Services and deemed ineligible for a custodial sentence. An ICO requires the person to work for 32 hours per month under the supervision of Community Corrections (Probation and Parole). ICOs are intended for offenders deemed to need rehabilitation, not for offenders who are unlikely to re-offend.

Community Service Orders (CSO) mean the court orders a person to do unpaid work in the community. The work is organised by Community Corrections (Probation and Parole) after the person is assessed and declared eligible. Alternatively, a CSO may require someone to attend a particular service or place to help with their personal issues, for example an anger management program.

Fines can be issued by a magistrate or judge, who should take personal considerations into account including a person’s financial ability and their ability to pay the fine.

Suspended sentence or section 12 is a heavier sentence than a non-custodial sentence. A person is sentenced to two years or less in prison, but the judge orders they can be released from custody if they agree to a good behaviour bond. If the person adheres to the conditions of the bond the sentence won’t be enacted (ie they won’t go to prison). However if they breach the bond, there could be serious consequences. The court will determine whether the breach was trivial or whether the bond should be revoked. The sentence may then be served as full time imprisonment, home detention or an Intensive Correction Order.

Form 1 allows the court to take into account any un-convicted charges against a person when it is dealing with a principal offence. It is a document prepared by the prosecution (by the Office in Charge of the matter).

Periodic detention means a part-time custodial sentence, usually two days per week. Often a person will be required to enter a detention centre on Friday evenings and be released the following Sunday night.

Imprisonment means a person is sentenced to full-time custody. A judge should regard this as a last sentencing option. If a person believes their sentence is too harsh, they can apply for the matter to be re-heard by a higher court. This is called a severity plea.

Pre-Sentence Reports (PSR) happen when the court agrees to a six-week adjournment so an accused person can be interviewed by Community Corrections (Probation and Parole) and a report can be prepared. The court does not have to adopt any recommendations made in a PSR but will taken them into consideration. Therefore it’s an important process the defendant should prepare for and take seriously. If a defendant declines the opportunity to participate in an Intensive Correctional Order or Community Service Order during their pre-sentence interview, the court may consider its only option is to order a full-time custodial sentence (prison).

Deferred Sentence or section 11 (previously referred to as Griffiths Remand) allows the court to defer sentencing for up to 12 months, giving the offender time to seek rehabilitation, prove that rehabilitation has occurred or prove it is underway. A deferred sentence can also be used to help determine the non-parole period of a sentence. However it is not used in circumstances where the seriousness of an offence is in dispute.

Home detention or section 7 allows for sentences less than 18 months to be served under a home detention order. However not all offenders and crimes are eligible for home detention. Offenders are not eligible if they’ve had a domestic violence conviction or an AVO issued against them in the last five years at their home address, where the victim also resides. Other crimes deemed inappropriate for home detention include: murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, any sexual assault, armed robbery, firearms offences, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and stalking.

Sentencing discount means the court rewards defendants who plead guilty, generally reducing their sentence by 10-25%. However the court is under no obligation to reduce a penalty and may not do so. The earlier the plea is entered, the more likely the court will impose a lesser sentence. That’s because it saves the court’s time, money and resources. It also prevents the need for victims and their loved ones to relive traumatic events and it might be evidence of remorse.

A good lawyer will help make the court aware of an offender’s remorse. This might have been expressed via apologies and admissions made to police, or in letters written by the offender to the court. It may also be expressed in a character reference written by someone in the community.

The Drug Court of NSW only hears the cases of a limited number of offenders who:

  • live in certain parts of the state – you can learn more about who’s eligible at justice.nsw.gov.au
  • are dependent on a prohibited drug and have indicated a plea of guilty will be entered
  • have not been charged with a violent or sexual crime or a purely indictable act under the Drug (Misuse and Trafficking) Act.

The Drug Court sits at Sydney, Parramatta and Toronto. Part of the Drug Court program involves an initial assessment in a detox unit at the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre at the Silverwater Correctional Complex. If an offender is accepted into the program they are subject to a 12 month period of abstinence or methadone. Local and District Courts can nominate offenders and names go into a ballot. Unfortunately offenders living outside the Drug Court’s catchment areas cannot be accepted.

Call our Criminal Law Team for the best results on 02 4929 3995 or email us at info@catherinehenrylawyers.com.au

*The material provided in our information sheets is for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for independent legal advice. For further information about the issues affecting you, please contact one of our experienced and professional lawyers for expert advice.

Contact our Criminal Law team


The Sentencing Process Explained

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