Key Takeaways

What is a Good Behaviour Bond?
A good behaviour bond is a condition to not commit further offences for the duration of the court-imposed sentence, which is commonly included in a conditional release order, community correction order, or intensive correction order. The duration of the bond can be for up to 3 years.


Good Behaviour Bond for Adults in New South Wales

A good behaviour bond usually a condition imposed as part of a sentence involving an order that the offender is to comply with specific conditions, including the condition that the offender must not commit any offence, and to appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the order.

Formerly, a bond of good behaviour was a sentencing option available for adults in New South Wales, however, reforms of sentencing laws in 2018 implemented powers to order a person to enter a Conditional Release Order (CRO) or Community Corrections Order (CCO) which include conditions to be of good behaviour during the term of the order.

This essentially means that good behaviour bonds were replaced by the new sentencing options of CROs and CCOs.

There are a range of criminal law penalties available for a sentencing court to impose upon an adult offender. A good behaviour bond is one of the most common conditions that are imposed by sentencing courts that forms part of the sentence penalty ultimately ordered by the court. These sentence penalties include a Conditional Release Order (CRO), Community Corrections Order (CCO) and Intensive Correction Order (ICO).


Good behaviour Bond for Children in New South Wales

For young persons and children under the age of 18 years (but not under the age of 10 years) in New South Wales, unless it is a serious children’s indictable offence, the Children’s Court of NSW can impose a good behaviour bond condition for up to 2 years as part of one of many sentencing options which include the following penalties:

  • A dismissal and discharge of the young person upon a condition to enter and comply with a good behaviour bond,
  • Releasing the young person on probation with a good behaviour bond condition.

Section 33(1A) of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW) outlines that a good behaviour bond imposed by the Children’s Court must contain the following:

  • A condition to the effect that the person to whom the bond related will appear before the court if called to do so at any time during the term of the bond, and
  • A condition to the effect that, during the term of the bond, the person under the bond will be of good behaviour, and
  • The good behaviour bond may contain such other conditions as are specified in the order by which the bond is imposed, other than conditions requiring the person under the bond to perform community service work, or to make any payment.

Before the Children’s Court imposes a fine on a child, it must consider the child’s age and the child’s ability to pay the fine and any potential impact of the fine on the child’s rehabilitation.

The Children’s Court must not impose a criminal conviction on a child offender who is under the age of 16 years but may impose a conviction on a child offender who is at least 16 years of age.

The fact that a child has pleaded guilty to an offence, or has been found guilty of an offence, by a court, being an offence committed while the offender was a child, shall not be admitted in evidence in any subsequent criminal proceedings taken out against that person in relation to any other offence if:

  • A conviction was not recorded against him/her, and
  • He/she has not, within the period of 2 years prior to the commencement of the proceedings for the other offence, been subject to any judgment, sentence, or order of a court whereby he/she has been punished for any other offence.


Conditional Release Orders and Section 10

A conditional release order (CRO) is a ‘good behaviour bond’ which may be imposed with or without a criminal conviction, under section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW). The CRO without conviction is commonly referred to as a ‘section 10’ or section 10 dismissal, which mean no conviction recorded.

The CRO replaces good behaviour bonds which could be imposed with or without conviction.

If the CRO is imposed without conviction, it will be made under section 10(1)(b) (formerly known as a ‘section 10 bond’).

In deciding whether to make a conditional release order (with or without conviction), the sentencing court is to have regard to:

  • the person’s character, antecedents, age, health, and mental condition,
  • whether the offence is of a trivial nature,
  • the extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed, and
  • any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider.

All CROs will include two standard conditions which are that: ‘the offender must not commit any offence’ and ‘that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the conditional release order.’

They also may be supplemented by additional and further conditions.

Additional conditions that may be ordered include a:

  • rehabilitation or treatment condition (requiring the offender to participate in a rehabilitation program or to receive treatment),
  • abstention condition (requiring abstention from alcohol or drugs or both),
  • non-association condition (prohibiting association with person/s),
  • place restriction condition (prohibiting visits to a particular place or area),
  • supervision condition (requiring the offender to submit to supervision by a community corrections officer).

A conditional release order cannot include conditions related to home detention, electronic monitoring, a curfew condition, or a community service work condition.

If you commit any further offences during the prescribed period of the CRO, you may be re-sentenced for the offence to which the CRO was ordered, often resulting in harsher penalties.

They can be made for a maximum period of 2 years with the order commencing on the date it is made.


Community Correction Orders

A community corrections order (CCO) is considered a more serious sentencing option than a conditional release order, in that a conviction must be formally recorded. It is outlined as a sentencing option in section 8 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW). This sentence penalty is a conviction with a good behaviour bond.

CCOs replaced what were previously known as community service orders and good behaviour bonds made on conviction.

As with CROs, CCOs are required to contain the two standard conditions which are that: ‘the offender must not commit any offence’ and ‘that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the conditional release order.’

They may also contain any of the additional conditions previously outlined.

Furthermore, conditions which may be placed on a CCO which are not able to be includes for CROs include a:

  • curfew condition imposing a specified curfew (not exceeding 12 hours in any period of 24 hours), and
  • a community service work condition (requiring the performance of community service work for a specified number of hours, not exceeding 500 hours or the number of hours prescribed by the regulations, whichever is the lesser).

The maximum number of hours that may be specified for community service work in an additional condition of a community correction order is:

  • 100 hours where the offence has a maximum term of imprisonment does not exceed 6 months,
  • 200 hours where the offence has a maximum term of imprisonment that exceeds 6 months but does not exceed 1 year, and
  • 500 hours for offences where the offence has a maximum term of imprisonment that exceeds 1 year.

However, it is important to note that a court cannot order community service work condition unless it has obtained an assessment report regarding its suitability.

Conditional release orders and community corrections order can only be made with respect to a domestic violence offender if the court has considered the safety of any victim of the offence/s.

Furthermore, ordinally where a domestic violence offender is sentenced to a conditional release order or community corrections order, the order is required to include a supervision condition.

However, the Court may decide not to impose a supervision condition, where it is satisfied that this is more appropriate in the circumstances, and it gives reasons for reaching that view.

They can be made for a maximum period of 3 years, with the order commencing on the date it is made.


Intensive Correction Orders

Like the CRO and CCO, the Intensive Correction Order also contains the standard condition that the offender must not commit a further offence during the term of the order.

The ICO is different to the other penalties because it is an imprisonment sentence although the offender does not actually go into custody. Instead, the offender is required to be supervised by a community correction officer and the court must also impose at least 1 additional order, which may include home detention, curfew, community service order of no more than 750 hours. The ICO is a conviction.

The ICO is an opportunity for an offender to still receive an imprisonment sentence to reflect the purposes of punishment, yet not actually go to prison, and is only available in limited circumstances.


When is an ICO Available as a Sentencing Option?

An ICO is available if:

  • The court ends up imposing a sentence of imprisonment of no more than two years for a single offence, or no more than 3 years for an aggregate sentence for multiple offences,
  • If the ICO is more likely to address the risk of re-offending than imprisonment will,
  • The offence is not a prescribed sex offence where the victim is under the age of 16 years, or any sex offence involving sexual intercourse involving a victim of any age, or child abuse material, or terrorism offences, or discharge of firearms, or murder/manslaughter offence,
  • A sentencing assessment report is ordinarily required before a court makes an ICO order unless the court is satisfied that it has sufficient information to justify imposing an ICO without such report. However, before a court can impose a home detention condition or community service condition as part of an ICO order, the sentencing assessment report must be obtained stating suitability for same. Otherwise, a court is not bound by a sentencing assessment report.
  • An ICO is not available for an offender who resides or intends to reside in another state or territory of Australia. The offender must reside in New South Wales.
  • Section 4B of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) prohibits a court from imposing an ICO to an offender who has been sentence to an imprisonment sentence in relation to a domestic violence offence unless satisfied that the victim and any person with whom the offender is likely to reside with will be adequately protect (whether by conditions or for some other reason).
  • A home detention condition cannot be imposed under an ICO to a domestic violence offender if the court reasonably believes that the offender will reside with the victim. If the court considers a home detention as an unavailable option, it may instead end up imposing full time imprisonment.

An ICO must be considered by the court when a cogent argument is raised in favour of one.

When considering an ICO, the court must consider community safety as paramount consideration.

This is done by the court determining whether an ICO is more likely to address the risk of re-offending than full time imprisonment.

The law acknowledges that community programs with supervision are more likely to reduce the risk of re-offending than a term of imprisonment of under two years.

The court will be in error if it fails to consider community safety when an obligation to consider an ICO arises in a case. This can be a ground of appealing. This was expressed by the New South Wales Court of Appeal in the case of Stanley v DPP (NSW) [2021] NSWCA 337.


How Long Does A Good Behaviour Bond Last?

A section 10 or Conditional Release Order sentence that has a good behaviour bond period within it can be imposed for up to two years.

A good behaviour bond condition in a community correction order sentence can be imposed for up to three years.

An Intensive Correction Order that contains a good behaviour bond period can only be imposed if the court-imposed imprisonment sentence is no more than two years for a single offence, or if the court imposed sentence imprisonment sentence is no more than three years for an aggregate sentence involving multiple offences.


What happens If I Breach My Good Behaviour Bond?

If you breach your good behaviour bond, under a conditional release order (CRO) or a Community Correction Order (CCO)  during the period that it is or was enforced, the court may call on you to appear and may issue an arrest warrant if you fail to appear at court after being called upon to. If the breach of your bond is proven, the court can take no action, vary, or revoke any of the conditions of the bond (except the standard conditions), or it may revoke the CRO order in its entirely which allows the court to then re-sentence you for that offence. (Part 4C and Part 4B of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW)).

Following a breach of a good behaviour bond under a conditional release order or a community correction order, and not an intensive correction order, the court may decide to re-sentence you for the offence relating to the good behaviour bond.

The court will begin from the start when considering an appropriate sentence to impose.

The sentencing process that the court must go through commences from first considering the statutory maximum penalty under the law; any applicable standard non-parole period if it applies; followed by considering whether or not the offence warrants an imprisonment sentence (known as the section 5 threshold) in addition to keeping in mind the purposes of sentencing under section 3A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW); determining an appropriate term of the imprisonment sentence to be imposed; and finally determining whether the imprisonment sentence can be served by way of an ICO.

The section 5 threshold requires the sentencing Judge or Magistrate to consider whether after having considered all sentencing options, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate. Noting that an imprisonment sentence can include either full time imprisonment or an ICO. This is referred to the section 5 threshold test, and if the court is satisfied the section 5 threshold test has been passed, then it will next be required to consider the term of that imprisonment sentence before considering whether an ICO is available and appropriate.

An Intensive Correction Order has the capacity to operate as a substantial punishment, dependent on the number and nature of conditions imposed, and given the multiple mandatory standard conditions and their obligation).

What Happens if I Breach My Intensive Correction Order?

If you breach a good behaviour bond during the period of an intensive correction order (ICO), the sentencing court cannot deal with it. instead, the Community Corrections Officer and Parole Authority have power to deal with such breaches in New South Wales.

If your community corrections officer believes there has been a breach of your conditions can take no action but record the breach; give you an informal or formal warning that future breach may result in referral to the parole authority; give you reasonable direction in relation to the breach; impose a curfew of up to 12 hours in a 24 hour period; or refer the breach to the parole authority to deal with it which has even more power.

If the parole authority suspects there is a breach, it may conduct an enquiry into the matter; impose an interim suspension of the ICO order and issue an arrest warrant in certain circumstances; impose, vary, or revoke the ICO conditions; or if satisfied that there is a breach during the term of the order, it may take any one or more of the following actions:

  • Take no action but record the breach,
  • Give you a formal warning,
  • Impose, vary, or revoke any conditions of the ICO (it cannot revoke the standard conditions). It may impose home detention of up to 30 days, require you to submit to electronic monitoring and other ancillary orders,
  • Revoke the ICO order (revocation order)

If the parole authority decides to revoke your ICO order, an arrest warrant will be issued allowing authorities to take you to a correctional centre to serve the remainder of your sentence in custody. Once a revocation order is made, the parole authority is required to serve you with a revocation notice as soon as practicable outlining the date to meet to reconsider the revocation and a date that the revocation takes effect (this must be 2 weeks after, but within 28 days of serving the notice). You as the offender can then notify the parole authority to reconsider the revocation on the reconsideration meeting (you must do this 7 days before the set review date). You may submit a notice of intention to make submissions to the parole authority, in which case the parole authority will conduct a hearing to review the revocation.

Following a review by the parole authority, it may rescind the revocation, or it may vary (or rescind) the date that the revocation date takes effect.

It is important to know that an offender cannot review the revocation notice decision by the parole authority if it is revoked within 30 days before the sentence expires.

A more common avenue is the seek reinstatement of the revoked ICO. The parole authority can reinstate the ICO for the balance of the sentence on its own initiative or on an offender’s application.

If you are the offender, you may make an application to the parole authority to reinstate the ICO if you have served at least one month of full-time imprisonment following the ICO revocation. You must also state what you have done or are doing to ensure the parole authority that you will not commit further breaches.

The parole authority may then refer you to a community corrections officer for an ICO suitability assessment report.

It is important to know that the parole authority cannot reinstate your ICO if you are subject to an imprisonment sentence of full-time yet to commence.

For more on ICO penalties in NSW, contact our criminal lawyers Sydney office to arrange a consult.


Good Behaviour Licence

Unrestricted NSW drive licence holders who receive a notice of suspension from exceeding demerit points are eligible to elect to be placed on a 1-year good behaviour licence to avoid the licence suspension.

The good behaviour licence option can be elected on or before the suspension period commencement date. Once elected, you may lawfully continue driving on a good behaviour licence. This also applies to professional licence holders, according to section 36 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW). Harsher consequences apply if at least 2 demerit points are incurred during that good behaviour bond period.

Your demerit points reset as at the start of your demerit point suspension date, according to section 37(1)(c) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW). They do not reset at the expiration of your demerit point suspension.

A 3-month demerit point suspension applies to an unrestricted licence holder who incurs between 13 and 15 demerit points within a 3-year period. A 4-month licence suspension applies if that same driver incurs between 16 and 19 demerit points in a 3-year period. A 5-month licence suspension applies if that same driver incurs 20 or more demerit points in a 3-year period.

A Provisional 1 or Learner driver who incurs 4 or ore demerit points within a 3-year period will be subject to a 3-month licence suspension period. In contrast, a provisional 2 driver will face a 3-month licence suspension if 7 or more demerit points are incurred within a 3-year period.

Professional licence holders face a 3-month licence suspension period if 14 demerit points are incurred within a 3-year period.


How Long Does a Good Behaviour Licence Last?

A good behaviour licence gets imposed for a period of 12 months. During that 12-month period, the driver can continue lawfully driving in New South Wales. After the good behaviour licence expires, the good behaviour licence condition is removed from the driver’s licence.


I Breached my Demerit Point Suspension, What are My Options?

Breaching a good behaviour licence period because of committing a demerit point traffic offence carrying at least two demerit points will result in a demerit point licence suspension for twice the period of the original demerit point suspension.

An unrestricted licence holder cannot appeal this type of suspension; however, a P or L plate licence holder can appeal this demerit point licence suspension.

The alternative option for an unrestricted, L or P plate licence holder is to court elect the demerit point offence.

A successful outcome in court from a court election will result in no demerit points being wiped from you as a result of the demerit point offence. This occurs if the court dismisses the offence either by way of a section 10 non conviction (after pleading guilty to it in court and seeking leniency) or a finding of ‘not guilty’ following a defended hearing in court. In that event, your good behaviour licence will continue until it expires.

A successful outcome following a demerit point suspension appeal will result in no licence suspension, allowing you to continue driving lawfully. Alternatively, the court can dismiss the appeal and vary the licence suspension period by reducing the suspension period. If the court dismisses the appeal but varies the suspension period, the demerit point will not be incurred to a P or L plate licence holder.

A demerit point suspension appeal is different from a court election. A demerit point suspension appeal is concerned more about the court being concerned with the public safety. The court here can allow or dismiss the appeal. If the appeal is allowed, no demerit points are incurred which means there will be no suspension period. If the appeal is dismissed, the court can still reduce the suspension period. In contrast, a court election does not give the court a discretion to reduce the suspension period.

Generally, you have within 28 days to appeal the licence suspension after receiving the suspension notice. You are assumed to have received the suspension notice 4 days after it gets posted to you.

A demerit point limit is the demerit points that can be accumulated before Transport for New South Wales suspends or refuses to renew your licence. If your licence is being suspended due to demerit points, then you will receive a notice of suspension or refusal which outlines the date that your suspension commences and your options to appeal or court elect.

Demerit points in New South Wales reset after 3-years from the date of your last demerit point offence; at the beginning of a good behaviour licence period if you have elected for a good behaviour licence after being hit with a demerit point suspension notice; on the court’s determination of a licence appeal; or at the beginning of your licence suspension period after being issued with a suspension notice by Transport for NSW.

An unrestricted licence limits at 13 demerit points; a professional licence holder limits at 14 points; while a provisional P2 licence holder demerit point limits at 7 points; and a provisional P1 or learner licence holder limits its demerit points at 4 points.

If you are an unrestricted licence holder who is currently on a good behaviour licence, you have 2 points remaining to be able to incur before breaching your good behaviour licence.

An unrestricted licence holder who is currently on a 12-month good behaviour licence that incurs 2 or more demerit points will have their licence suspended as follows:

  • 6 months licence suspension if the driver incurs between 13-15 demerit points,
  • 8 months licence suspension if the driver incurs between 16-19 demerit points,
  • 10 months licence suspension if the driver incurs at least 20 demerit points.

An unrestricted licence holder who has incurred at least 2 more demerit points during the 12-month good behaviour licence period triggering the double the original suspension period is not allowed to appeal that suspension. The only way this driver can try to avoid the suspension is by court electing and seeking a dismissal order by the court.

Applicable to unrestricted licence holders who exceed their demerit point limits at least two times within a five-year period will be refused from renewing their driver licence in New South Wales until and unless they pass the driver knowledge test and complete a driver education course such as the traffic offender’s intervention program by an accredited course provided.

For tailored advice, it is recommended to speak to a traffic lawyer specialising in demerit point offences early on to understand your rights and realistic options. Here is a list of approved providers.

Jimmy Singh and Poppy Morandin.

AUTHOR Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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