Good behaviour bonds in New South Wales are generally governed by the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
A good behaviour bond is an order from a magistrate that a person be of ‘good behaviour’ for a specified amount of time, with or without other conditions. The bonds allow an offender to be released into the community rather than serve time in jail. The conditions of the bond must be accepted by the defendant, who signs the bond as a promise to comply with it.
For some offences, a fine can be imposed in addition to the bond for a single offence. However, a community service order cannot be imposed with a bond for the same offence.
The conditions of a bond must be very clear and they must not be unreasonable or unnecessarily hard to comply with.
In the Children’s Court a bond is not to be for longer than 2 years under the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987. In the Children’s Court a bond can also be given with a fine.
- Section 9 Bond – If you are convicted of an offence, you may be placed on a Section 9 good behaviour bond rather than being sentenced to a term of imprisonment. This bond can be imposed for a maximum of 5 years.
- Section 10 Bond – If the court finds you guilty of an offence, they may decide not to convict you but instead make your discharge conditional upon your compliance with a good behaviour bond. At the end of the time set by the bond, if the bond has not been breached then you will not be convicted for the offence. These section 10 good behaviour bonds can last for up to 2 years.
- Section 12 Bond – These bonds are also known as suspended sentences. If the court finds you guilty of an offence and sentences you to imprisonment for up to 2 years, it can suspend some or all of the sentence upon you entering into a good behaviour bond.
For those subject to good behaviour bonds in New South Wales, there are a number of penalties that could be imposed if the terms of the bond are breached.
In most instances, you will be summonsed to return to court, but in some instances the Court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
At court, you might receive a warning and have no further action taken. The court also has the power to change the conditions in the bond, or to revoke (cancel) the bond, and after revoking it, if they choose, to impose a different penalty for the offence. This will often mean that you receive a more severe penalty.
If the bond was a section 10 bond, the court may also enter a conviction for the offence.
If the bond is breached because you have committed a fresh offence, when you are sentenced for that offence you are likely to receive a more severe penalty because it was committed while you were on conditional release.
For good behaviour bonds in New South Wales, if the bond is a section 12 bond and is breached, the court must revoke (cancel) it unless it is satisfied that any failure to comply with the conditions of the bond was minor or that there are good reasons to excuse that failure.
Once a bond is revoked the original sentence of imprisonment starts immediately. The court can order that the sentence is served by way of full time jail or that is served by way of an intensive correction order or by home detention (if you are assessed as being suitable for one of those options).
If the bond is breached because you have committed a fresh offence, when you are sentenced for that offence you are likely to receive a more severe penalty because it was committed even though you previously undertook to abide by the conditions of the bond instead of being sent to jail.
The specific conditions of your good behaviour bond will depend on your individual circumstances and the circumstances of the offence.
All bonds contain the condition that you are of good behaviour and that you appear for sentence before the court if called upon to do so. Further conditions may also include:
- that you accept the directions and guidance of probation and parole
- that you attend specified counselling or counselling as requested by probation and parole
- that you are not to assault, molest or harass another person
- that you comply with a treatment plan or with a medication regime set up by a medical practitioner.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 25 November 2015. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.