New Sentencing Option Introduced in NSW: ‘Community Correction Orders’

Our previous blog outlined how the ‘section 10 bond’ has now replaced the new ‘conditional release order’ as a new sentencing option in NSW for criminal and traffic offences.

This blog outlines a further new sentencing option called a ‘community corrections order’ which effectively replaces the old ‘section 9 bond’ and ‘community service order’ penalties, under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).

A ‘conditional release order’ is a sentencing option a Judge or Magistrate can impose on an offender who commits a criminal or traffic offence. The penalty imposed can be either with or without a criminal conviction, with conditions.

A ‘community corrections order’ (CCO) is a penalty that a Judge or Magistrate can impose for more serious types of criminal or traffic offences which involve imposing a conviction, with conditions.

The new sentencing options in NSW are effective from 24/9/2018. This means lawyers, Judges and Magistrates must be familiar with the new laws as they now apply across all NSW Courts.

A Summary of the Major Changes to the Sentencing Laws in NSW?

In summary, the major sentencing changes in NSW include the following:

  • The previous known ‘section 10 bond’ (non-conviction) is now replaced with a ‘conditional release order’ which is similar but has more options and conditions.
  • The previous known ‘section 9 bond’ and ‘community service order’ is now replaced with a ‘community corrections order’ which is similar but has even more options and conditions than the ‘conditional release order’.
  • The previous known ‘intensive corrections order’ (ICO) has essentially been expanded into a new improved ‘intensive corrections order’ (ICO) which can include a ‘community service order’ and ‘home detention’ as further optional conditions.

Significantly, the ‘suspended sentence’ has now been completely abolished. The ‘suspended sentence’ was a sentencing option under section 12 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) where it gives a sentencing Judge or Magistrate an option to sentence an offender to a term of prison of up to 2 years, but suspending that term and directing the offender’s immediate release from prison on the condition he/she enter into a good behaviour bond for that term.

This reflects the remarks of NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman who said that the suspended sentences as a sentencing option were ineffective.

What Sentencing Options Remain the Same?

What remains unchanged is the section 10(1)(a) also known as the s10 dismissal non-conviction and the terms of full time imprisonment.

The section 10 dismissal is a penalty option for any criminal or traffic offence which results in no recording of a conviction against an offender’s name.

Unlike the previous ‘section 10 bond’ and new ‘conditional release order with no conviction’, the s10 dismissal doesn’t impose a good behaviour bond or conditions.

The section 10A and fine penalty continue to also remain as sentencing options in NSW for traffic and criminal offences. They each come with convictions without imposing further conditions and usually apply in more trivial cases where a non-conviction is considered inappropriate by a Magistrate or Judge.

The New ‘Community Corrections Order’

The new ‘community corrections order’ (CCO) replaces the previous known ‘section 9 bond’ and ‘community service order’. A CCO as a sentencing option results in a criminal conviction with conditions that an offender will be required to comply with.

The previous known section 9 bond under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) was a sentencing option for criminal and traffic offenders in NSW resulting in a conviction with a condition that the offender enter into a good behaviour bond for a specified period of time such as 2 years which required him/her to not commit further offences. A breach of a good behaviour bond would then have its consequences.

The previous known section 9 bond penalty allowed the Magistrate or Judge to also impose a further condition of supervision requiring the offender to comply with all reasonable directions of a community corrections officer.

A section 9 bond was therefore limited to giving a Judge or Magistrate the discretion of choosing to impose on the offender either the standard condition of a good behaviour bond (not to commit further offences and to appear at court when called upon to do so), or an additional condition to also be supervised for the duration of that bond period.

A ‘community corrections order’ is a more serious type of penalty than a ‘conditional release order’, although it’s considered a more lenient penalty than an ‘intensive corrections order’.

A ‘community corrections order’ will require an offender to comply with standard conditions. However, a Judge or Magistrate imposing a CCO as a penalty has the discretion to also impose additional conditions on an offender to comply with- the conditions selected will depend on the offenders needs of rehabilitation by determining the factors that contributed to the offence(s).

The additional conditions that a Magistrate or Judge has discretion in imposing under a CCO is much broader than what conditions a section 9 bond ever had available.

Because a CCO has more conditions available for a Judge or Magistrate to impose in addition to the standard conditions, it is meant to allow for a better sentencing penalty that can be better tailored to the individual offender’s needs to reduce re-offending in order to improve community safety.

The CCO is meant to be able to do this by identifying the features of the individual that contributed to the offending behaviour, such as drug or alcohol addiction, or mental health issues, that need addressing, and then impose the most appropriate of the CCO conditions that can better address those issues.

What are the ‘Standard Conditions’ of a ‘Community Corrections Order’?

A ‘community corrections order’ penalty requires an offender to comply with the following ‘standard conditions’:

  • The offender is required to appear at court if ever called upon to do so during the duration of the CCO order; and
  • The offender is not to commit further offences for the duration of the CCO order.

What are the ‘Additional Conditions’ of a ‘Community Corrections Order’?

Keeping in mind that one of main purposes of sentencing is to protect the community by reducing the risk of the offender re-offending, a Judge or Magistrate can also add by imposing any 1 or more of the following ‘additional conditions’ of a CCO penalty to achieve that aim:

  • Restrict the offender from entering a specified location.
  • Prohibit the offender from associating with specified people.
  • Prohibit the offender from drinking alcohol or consuming drugs.
  • Restricting the offender by requiring him/her to stay inside his/her home between specified hours of the day or night. The Judge or Magistrate is prohibited from imposing this curfew for more than a twelve hour in a twenty-four-hour period.
  • Direct the offender to participate a specified treatment or rehabilitation program to address any identified issues such as alcohol, drugs or mental health.
  • Require the offender to perform a specified number of hours of community service work. The offender can’t be required to do more than a total of 500 hours. To impose this condition, a Judge or Magistrate requires an ‘assessment report’ to be prepared expressing suitability for the offender to do community service work. An assessment report could express an offender as unsuitable for community service work due to an offenders physical or mental health.
  • Require the offender to adhere to being supervised by a community corrections officer who will require the offender, based on his/her needs, to comply with all reasonable directions which may include a requirement to continue any treatment or rehabilitation program.

Importantly, a ‘home detention’ condition cannot be imposed as part of a ‘community corrections order’ penalty.

Only an ‘intensive corrections order’ penalty allows a Judge or Magistrate to impose a ‘home detention’ condition. This will be a subject of discussion in our next blog on the new sentencing options relating to the new ‘intensive corrections order’.

What Happens if I Breach My ‘Community Corrections Order’?

Breaching a ‘community corrections order’ can occur by not complying with any one or more of its conditions.

The court can require you to appear in court if it suspects that you have breached a condition. If you fail to appear in court in those circumstances, a warrant can be issued allowing police to find and arrest you to bring you to court to answer to the possible breach.

Where a Judge or Magistrate is satisfied that you breached a condition of the CCO, any one of the following consequences can occur:

  • Your ‘community corrections order’ gets revoked. This means that the Judge or Magistrate will give you a fresh new sentence by imposing any one of the penalties. The new penalty will more likely be harsher than the last one. It can include the same CCO with further conditions, or the imposition of an ‘intensive corrections order’ or even a term of full-time imprisonment.
  • Without revoking your ‘community corrections order’, the Judge or Magistrate can change the conditions of it by adding further conditions.
  • The Judge or Magistrate can decide not to take any action in which case nothing further happens. This will depend on how trivial or serious the breach was, and your explanation for committing the breach.

How Long Does a Community Corrections Orders Last For?

A ‘community corrections order’ can be imposed on an offender for up to 3 years from the date of receiving the sentence in court.

A Magistrate or Judge will specify a period at the time of sentencing you in court.

Can The Conditions of a Community Corrections Order be Changed?

The conditions under a ‘community corrections order’ can be later changed by adding or removing conditions. An application to do this can be made to the court by either the community correction officer or the offender.

Can The Conditions of a Community Corrections Order be Suspended?

A supervision condition imposed under a ‘community correction order’ can be suspended for a specified period or indefinitely by the community correction officer. The same community correction officer can also suspend other conditions, such as place restriction, non-association or curfew conditions.

Please call our office if you have any questions arising from the new sentencing laws in NSW. Our criminal lawyers appear in all courts.

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About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Australia's Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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