Good behaviour bonds in Victoria are also known as Adjourned Undertakings and the law that deals with them is the Sentencing Act 1991. They require the defendant to comply with certain conditions for a specified period.
If a criminal charge is proved, an adjourned undertaking can be made either with or without a conviction and can be imposed for up to 5 years. The defendant must agree to comply with all of the terms of the undertaking.
If all of the terms of the good behaviour bond are complied with, on the adjourned date the court must discharge the defendant with no further hearing or penalty.
Good behaviour bonds in Victoria may also be imposed on children.
Under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the Children’s Court may adjourn proceedings against a child without conviction by imposing a good behaviour bond. The bond usually lasts for one year. If the child complies with all of the conditions of the bond for that time, the court will dismiss the charge without recording a conviction.
While released on a good behaviour bond, the child must:
- be of good behaviour
- pay a bond amount
- come back to the court if required to do so
- comply with any special conditions set by the court.
If the child breaches any of the conditions of the good behaviour bond, the court may either declare the bond forfeited and keep the bond money and impose no further penalty, or it can hold another hearing and impose a different sentence.
A defendant is given the opportunity of a good behaviour bond or adjourned undertaking for a number of purposes, such as:
- to provide an opportunity for their rehabilitation by allowing their sentence to be served in the community unsupervised
- to take into account the technical, trivial, or minor nature of the offence that was committed
- as an option in circumstances in which it would not be appropriate to record a conviction
- as an option for circumstances where it is inappropriate to inflict any punishment other than a nominal punishment
- as an option in circumstances where there exists other extenuating or exceptional circumstances that justify the court showing mercy.
The usual conditions that are imposed while on a good behaviour bond or adjourned undertaking are that the defendant be of good behaviour (including not committing any further offences) for the period of the adjournment, and/or that they pay a sum of money into the Court Fund.
The Court may also impose other conditions, such as that the defendant undertake or continue a particular treatment regime or attend a particular education program during the adjournment period.
Compensation or restitution orders can also be made.
These additional orders can be for a maximum of 2 years or the length of the order, whichever is shorter.
An application can be made to vary or to cancel an order for a good behaviour bond by either the defendant, the prosecutor or certain other persons at any time while the order is in force if:
- the circumstances of the defendant have materially changed since the order was made and the defendant can no longer comply with a condition of the undertaking
- the information presented to the Court before the order was made regarding the circumstances of the defendant was not accurate
- the defendant is no longer willing to comply with all of the conditions of the undertaking.
If the order is cancelled the court can deal with the defendant in any way permitted under the law as if it had just found them guilty of the offence or offences. Any variation of the order or re-sentence after cancellation of the order must take into account anything that has been done by the defendant in compliance with the adjourned undertaking.
If a defendant does not come to court for the application, a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
Failing to comply with conditions imposed in relation to good behaviour bonds in Victoria means the defendant is in breach of the order.
A defendant who breaches an order may be called back to court for re-sentencing. If they do not attend court for the re-sentencing, then a warrant can be issued for their arrest.
When re-sentencing the defendant, the court can impose any sentence that is available for the offence, but must take into consideration anything done by the defendant under the good behaviour bond.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 19 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.