What Penalties Can a Court Impose?

The range of sentencing options available to a court is wide and principally governed by the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act.

Recording No Conviction At All
Section 10 of the Act allows a Court to record no criminal record. The court can still require that you be subject to a good behavior bond for a period of time and any breach of such a bond can result in further action. The main benefit of a section 10 approach to sentencing is that it allows, in rare cases, for a person to be dealt with by the court without getting a criminal conviction entered on their record. However, simply because you receive no conviction does not mean that the result is not formally recorded by the Court and by Police and even a section 10 result can still come up on records checks of certain kind. We have experience dealing with cases where people have received a section 10 outcome only to have that matter come up in a working-with-children check for employment and occasionally for visa applications and international travel.  

Fines are often imposed (especially for traffic related offenses) however they are often combined with a good behavior bond for a period of time or a disqualification period (if the matter involves licenses, driving or similar offenses).  

Good Behavior Bonds
Good behavior bonds can be imposed to require that you complete a period of time in which you must commit further offenses or fail to comply with any direction that the court sets as a condition for the bond. Upon the satisfactory completion of the bond period, the matter is finalized.  

Community Service Orders
Community service orders can be imposed by a court. Such orders require that you complete a certain number of hours of work in the community (often for charities or good works in maintaining the community). In addition, a portion of the hours ordered can be ordered to be spent in attending special courses that are conducted (such as a Sober Driver Course) for certain types of offenses. The availability of work in the area you live in (or can get to) together with your own ability to meet any time or physical capacity requirements play a significant role in the court’s consideration of whether or not you are suitable for such an order. Not all persons who come before the court are considered suitable and so not always will a CSO be available.  

Suspended Sentence
Suspended sentences can be imposed pursuant to section 12 of the act. Where this is done, the court sentences you to a period of imprisonment but suspends that sentence from being executed on the condition that you successfully complete a bond to be of good behavior. If you fail to abide by the bond (a breach) the court has very limited options and ordinarily the suspended gaol sentence will be imposed.  

Intensive Correction Orders
Intensive correction orders (also known as an “I.C.O.” or “Icko”) can be a way for the court to require you to complete a number of conditions for a period of time. The ICO has a number of flexible conditions but will frequently involve an order that you live in a certain location, be subject to supervision and random checks, attend for medical treatment or counseling and otherwise engage in community service. This sentencing option replaced and greatly extended Period Detention which is no longer available in NSW.  

Home Detention
A court can order that you be confined to your house for a period of time (essentially, home arrest), save in certain circumstances. This order is frequently unavailable because of insufficient places in the program or geographical isolation reasons.

There are many more sentencing options available (such as in Commonwealth Offenses and under various other pieces of legislation). Each of these have their own sets of rules. Mostly, the above options are the main ones seen in NSW Courts.