Generally Penalties are Structured as Follows
A Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999 means that a criminal conviction will not be recorded against you. This is important for people who rely on their good character as part of their everyday life. Sections 10’s are generally awarded in circumstances where the offence if trivial, or there are exceptionally good reasons that you should not be convicted of the crime. The person’s character, prior record, age, health and mental condition, the trivial nature of the offence, and the extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed are all reasons that the Magistrate or the Judge will consider before discharging a person under a Section 10. It essentially means that the offence has been proved, however without proceeding to conviction you have been discharged of any future obligations. Assuming that you are placed on a Section 10 bond, then this is the same thing, however the bond is set for a period of time, and if you do anything wrong during the course of this bond, you may be called back before the Court and resentenced for this offence.A section 10 (A) Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999 is where the offence has been proved and you have been convicted of the charge. This is the second best penalty that you can get. However it means that you have a criminal conviction. This is generally awarded in cases, where the offence is too serious to deal with it (without a conviction) however the offence is not serious enough to warrant any further pecuniary penalties or otherwise.
A step up from this is a Section 9 Good behaviour Bond. Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999. This penalty is given in circumstances where the offence is too serious to deal with under a Section 10, however, it is generally awarded where the Court needs some assurance that you will “stay in line.” It enables the Court to guide your progress during the term of the bond. This bond can be either conditional or unconditional. In our experience, people usually serve out the period of their bond without any difficulties. In the event that you do commit a further offence during the term of your bond (for example 2 months after you have been to court), then depending on what the offence is, you will be called back before the Court. If the second offence is particularly serious, or if it’s exactly the same (such as your second drink driving offence) then the Court will usually breach you on your bond and resentence you for both offences.
If you are charged with a more serious offence: then generally you will be looking at a Community Service Order (Otherwise know as a CSO) Section 8 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999. If you receive a CSO then this will mean that you have to report to Probation and Parole and perform a certain number hours of work on behalf of the State (not exceeding 500 hours). Work will include anything from removing graffiti of walls, picking up garbage, to digging ditches. You will not be eligible to conduct such work if you are physically unwell, or if you have mental health problems. You will need to declare that you are physically well enough to perform such work before the Court will release you on a Community Service Order.
Assuming you commit an offence that warrants the Court to sentence you to a term of imprisonment an option the Court may have is to direct that you be assessed for suitability to perform an Intensive Corrective Order (Otherwise known as an ICO) under Section 7 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999. This is a new penalty, which has replaced Periodic Detention otherwise known as “weekend jail”. It was introduced to try and address the problem of jail overcrowding and to attempt to rehabilitate an offender within the community. If you are eligible and ordered to do this, it is a custodial sentence, which is essentially served within the community. It is a cross between a good behaviour bond (with supervision), and a community service order, however there are further restrictions on your liberty which means that you may also be subject to random urine analysis (to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system), or a curfew which mean that you may have restrictions on when you can leave your place of residence (which is generally at night time).
A step up from this, and a step down from full time imprisonment is what is called a Section 12 suspended sentence Crimes. Section 12 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999. It is unclear as to whether this penalty is worse or better than an ICO. However it is still a jail sentence, which is suspended over your head. This means that if you do anything wrong during the term of your sentence (the Court may breach you on your bond), and you will go to jail full time.
Then of course there is full time jail (imprisonment). Section 5 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) ACT 1999. Everyone knows what full time jail is. It is given in the most serious cases, where the Court has no alternative but to send you to jail. The offence must fall into the worst category for a Court to consider this as the only sentencing option. It is important to consider that although most criminal offences carry terms of imprisonment (as their maximum penalties), this penalty is generally only reserved where the offence is so serious that the court considers that there is no other sentencing options left other than full time jail. It is impossible to write an exhaustive list as to cases where full time jail would be appropriate or applicable, suffice to say that you must have committed a very serious offence or be a repeat offender and the court has no alternative but to send you to jail full time.