With a proven track record for over 20 years, our criminal defence lawyers have achieved section 10 non convictions for clients countless times. Getting section 10’s have meant that those clients have effectively avoided a licence disqualification, avoided a criminal conviction against their name, and are free to travel around the world and keep or apply for jobs they have worked hard in getting. It has given them back their freedom and peace of mind to continue with their lives without the awful stigma of a criminal conviction.
Our senior criminal and traffic defence lawyers specialise in section 10’s. They know exactly how to achieve a s10 by knowing what things are critical in achieving this. With over 20 years experience, we know exactly how to maximise your chances at getting a section 10.
What Is A Section 10?
A section 10 is a type of punishment which completely avoids a criminal conviction against your name. This means you will not be disqualified from driving, nor incur demerit points for a traffic offence. In criminal offences, it also means you will generally not have issues with travelling overseas or applying for jobs that require criminal record background checks.
Having a s10 will mean you can say “no” to any questions asking whether you have a criminal record.
The section 10 power is given to the Judge under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).
The section 10 can be with or without a good behaviour bond
If a section 10 is without a bond, it’s referred to as a s10 dismissal under s10(1)(a). Here the Judge will find you guilty but dismiss the charge without imposing any conditions. If you get this, there is nothing further you need to do. You will have no criminal conviction against your name for your criminal charge. For traffic charges, it will mean you will avoid a licence disqualification, and avoid incurring demerit points.
If a section 10 is with a bond, it’s referred to as a s10(1)(b) bond. Here the Judge will find you guilty but proceed to deal with you without a criminal conviction against your name on the condition you enter into a good behaviour bond for a certain period of time. The good behaviour bond can be for a period of up to 2 years from the day you receive the s10. This means your charge will be dismissed only after you successfully comply with the bond for the period it’s imposed.
What kind of conditions can be imposed under a s10 bond?
The bond’s usually conditions will require you to be of good behaviour during the period of the bond, and to attend court if called upon to do so during the bond period. The Judge can impose other conditions, for example, that you not commit any moving traffic offence during the bond period in cases of traffic offences, or require you to continue treatment with your psychologist in criminal offences.
How can a s10 bond be breached, and what happens if a s10 bond is breached?
The good behaviour bond under s10 can be breached simply by committing a further offence, for example, where you commit a criminal offence during the period of your bond. Unless the court says so as part of a bond, you will not be in breach if you commit a minor speeding or parking fine offence. Breaching your s10 bond often results in the court requiring you to attend court. The Court will then “call up” your s10 bond, and then it will decide whether it will take action or not take any action against you.
If the court decides to take no action against you for breaching the bond, then nothing happens. However, you are required to continue to comply with the rest of the bond period, until it expires.
If the court decides to take action against you for breaching the bond, then the Judge will re-open that same case you received the s10 bond for, and it will then proceed to re-sentence you again for that same offence. It will also consider a punishment for committing the offence that caused the breach of the s10 bond.
If the Judge re-sentences you for the breach of the s10 bond, the Judge can give you another section 10 bond to replace the previous one, maybe with a longer period and further conditions, or it can give you a criminal conviction with or without a good behaviour bond.
How To Get A Section 10?
To understand how to get a s10, you need to understand what goes on in the minds of the Judge when considering a s10.
Firstly, the Judge will always be thinking of the purposes of giving a sentence which is found in s3A Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. The purposes of sentencing or giving a punishment for an offence you commit include the following:
- To adequately punish you for committing an offence
- To publicly declare your offence and make you accountable for your behaviour
- To set an example of you to others to prevent others committing the offence
- To protect the community and recognise the harm done to the community and victim
- Your rehabilitation
Knowing this will then allow you to begin preparing your case and consider the next important part in maximising your chances at getting a s10 non conviction.
The next step is for the Judge to consider the following important factors in whether to give a s10:
- Your good character, age, mental health, whether you have prior convictions, and physical health
You have a much better chance at getting a s10 if the following apply to you:
- You have no previous criminal record against your name, and this is the first time your before a Judge being sentenced and ever had to deal with police. Going through the police process is embarrassing and scary in itself which can be seen as a form what punishment in itself.
- You are young and less inexperienced in life. The younger you are the more likely you will make mistakes in life, with opportunities to learn from and fix your behaviour to not re offend.
- Your good character, which can be best expressed by gathering good character reference letters from people who know you. Those people can express the good or great things they have seen you do in the time he/she has known you for. This is important, and should be done the correct way in the right format.
- The law generally requires Judges to give a more lighter punishment, such as s10, if you were suffering a mental condition at the time of the offence. For example, this can be depression, PTSD, schizophrenia. The reason for this is because the law puts less emphasis on punishing you or using you as an example to set to others where your offending behaviour was contributed by your mental condition at the time. The more your mental condition contributes to your offence, the more lenient your punishment ought to be, and, dependant on how serious your offence was, the more likelihood a s10 will be.
Getting a powerful psychologist report expressing those issues is the best way to prove a mental condition to convince the Judge to give a s10. It is important to get a well drafted psychologist pr psychiatrist court report, especially from an experienced well respected expert psychologist or psychiatrist.
Further advantages of an expert psychologist report favouring a s10, is it can express other important things to convince a Judge that a s10 is appropriate. This includes, expressions of your insight, remorse and prospects of rehabilitation which are very important factors in favour of a s10. For example, if the expert report expresses you are unlikely to repeat this offence again with a good basis of why, then the Judge will be more persuaded towards a s10 non conviction.
- Seriousness or trivial nature of your offending conduct
There are different levels of seriousness for each individual offence. For example, a charge of common assault can include a push or a punch. A push is considered less serious than a punch. This means, an offence of pushing someone for the same offence will likely result in a lighter punishment and much better chances of s10.
Judges in the past have found countless times in cases, that punishment may not seem appropriate due to the trivial nature or circumstances of the offence.
As experienced senior criminal and traffic defence lawyers, we have represented lots of people for all kinds of offences. In order to maximise your chances of getting a s10, our senior lawyers know exactly how to best highlight the best parts of your case in the best way.
Sometimes, the police give a version for the Judge to read that is far from the truth, making you look worse than it should. In that situation, it’s critical to first negotiate with police to change the facts before the Judge reads it. By changing the facts to what really happened, and how it really happened, you can be put in a much better light before the Judge who will more likely give a more lighter punishment. This would generally mean a better chance at a s10.
Sometimes, as our senior lawyers have done in the past on countless occasions, the police can be convinced to drop or downgrade your charge to something less serious. This can be done through pointing out all the holes in the police evidence, and then effectively negotiating with police, which if successful, can significant increase your chances of a s10 non conviction.
- Extenuating circumstances
Extenuating circumstances are usually where you commit an offence in very unusual or compelling circumstances that mitigate your offending behaviour, which can significant increase your chances at a s10 non conviction.
An example of this can be where you drink a drive in circumstances you drove in an emergency, where if this is accepted by the court, through evidence delivered the right way, can provide a very good explanation, not justification for your offence.
It’s important to ensure you prove those circumstances in the most compelling way. This can be done through you giving evidence under oath to the Judge, or in an affidavit, even sometimes through a psychologist report. The Judge will be looking for any inconsistencies in your evidence before believing your version. For this reason, it is important you get some realistic and experienced advice in the best way to prepare your case.
There can be a large range of circumstances that amount to being extenuating allowing a Judge to give a s10 non conviction. Each case will depend on its own facts and evidence.
- Any other matter the Judge thinks proper to consider
There are a range of matters the Judge can consider when thinking of giving a s10 non conviction, including the consequences of a conviction on:
- Your employment
- Your family life and ability to pay expenses
- Impact on people that depend on you
- Impact on your employer and likely financial loss
Judges in other cases have recognised that the legal and social consequences of being convicted of an offence often extend beyond any penalty imposed by a court.
The chances of getting a s10 non conviction can be significantly increased where your able to provide evidence of the effects of you getting a conviction.
For example, in a traffic case, it is highly relevant to prove that the impact of a conviction resulting in a licence disqualification will result in the loss of your job; financial struggle to your family; and inability to drive your children to and from school or daycare. As an additional important factor is evidence of the impact of the financial loss to your employer if you were no longer able to drive.
An example in a criminal case is proving the effect of a criminal conviction on your job where your employer requires you to have a clear criminal record. Your employer may provide you a letter or the effect of a conviction may be expressed in your employment contract; your job may require ongoing background checks. Highly relevant strengthen your chances of avoiding a conviction is showing evidence of the effect of your loss of job on your employers financial position; financial effect on your family where you are the only income provider; extent of your expenses such as mortgage repayments.
To maximise your chances of getting a s10 non conviction, speak to our team of senior criminal and traffic law specialists on realistic and practical guidance on the best way to prepare these documents for your case.
What Offences Can I Get A Section 10 For?
Technically a s10 is available to all offences, including drink driving, assault, fraud, indecent assault, and drug offences. However, you will not likely ever get a s10 non conviction for very serious offences such as murder. On the other hand, you are more likely to get a s10 non conviction for an assault involving a slight push.
A s10 non conviction is generally available for all offences depending on how serious or trivial it is. It depends on a closer look into the actual offending behaviour and surrounding circumstances. It also depends on, for example, your motive for committing the offence, whether you were provoked or misled, whether you were suffering a mental condition at the time and your judgment was impaired.
The Judge will weigh on the one hand, how serious the offending behaviour of your offence was and the purposes of punishment, while on the other hand, the Judge will weigh all those other factors discussed above in addition to the effect of a conviction on your life.
One of the main things the Judge will look at in considering to give you a s10 non conviction is whether you have any pervious criminal convictions. Someone with no prior convictions is more likely to get a s10 than someone who does.
There are certain circumstances for certain offences where the Judge is not allowed to give a s10 non conviction. For example, under s 203 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), the Judge cannot give you a s10 non conviction if you received a s10 in the last 5 years for certain offences, including:
- Drink driving
- Negligent driving where death or grievous bodily harm results
- Driving at a speed or manner dangerous, furious or reckless driving.
Judges also have restrictions on giving s10’s where there are guideline judgments passed by higher courts that require all courts to exercise significant caution and reserve s10’s to very rare situations. An example is the high range drink driving guideline judgement which generally tells all courts that a s10 should be rarely given, for example, in extenuating circumstances. It also says that s10 should be even more rarely given to offenders who have previously committing the offence in the last 5 years.
What Happens To My Demerit Points If I Get A Section 10 Non Conviction For A Traffic Offence?
Short answer to this is you will not incur demerit point if you ever get a s10 for a traffic offence, including drink driving, speeding and negligent driving. You will only incur demerit points if convicted.
Can I Get A Section 10 If I’m Found Guilty After Pleading Not Guilty?
Yes you can get a s10 even after you are found guilty after pleading not guilty in court. The problem is the chances of getting a s10 in this situation is far less than had you pleaded guilty earlier in your case.
This this reason, to maximise your chances at getting a s10 it’s important to get quick realistic advice from an experienced specialist criminal or traffic lawyer.
Can I Get A Section 10 After Pleading Guilty?
You generally have a better chance at getting a s10 non conviction by pleading guilty early in the case. The earlier you enter a plea of guilty, the higher the chances are of avoiding a criminal record. This is because the law automatically gives you a 25% discount off the sentence the Judge gives. This means a more lenient outcome and better chances of s10. The reasons for this includes a recognition that you have saved Court time and taxpayers money. It is also a reflection of leniency from your early plea of guilty expressing remorse, which allows the Judge to give you more leniency.
Does Section 10 Show Up On My Record?
A section 10 non conviction does show up on your record. It also shows the offence you received the s10 for. However, it means you have no conviction. This also means you can tick no next to any question of whether you have a criminal conviction.