Home Detention (NT)

In the Northern Territory, a person who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment may be ordered to serve the term as home detention. When a person is serving time on home detention, their term of imprisonment is suspended, and they are required to stay at home and abide by certain other conditions. Their compliance with the terms and conditions of the order is monitored by a Community Corrections Officer. This article deals with home detention orders in the NT.

Legislation

A home detention order is made under section 44 of the Sentencing Act 1995. Under that provision, a person can be placed on home detention for a period of up to 12 months. They are required to live at a specified place or premises during that period.

A home detention order can include conditions that the offender must:

  • not leave the premises except as permitted by Corrections;
  • wear an approved monitoring device;
  • obey the directions of Corrections.

Additional requirements that may be placed on a person while on home detention are participation in drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs, especially where drug or alcohol abuse was a factor in the offending.

When can a home detention order be made?

Courts in the NT can order that a term of imprisonment be served as home detention if Corrections has assessed the offender and provided a report stating that:

  • suitable arrangements are available for the offender to live at a specified place or premises;
  • the place or premises specified is suitable;
  • the home detention order is not likely to inconvenience or put at risk others living in the place or premises or in the community generally;
  • the offender consents to the order.

Reviews

A home detention order can be reviewed by a court. This can occur on application by the offender or by the Commissioner of Corrections.

An offender may apply for their order to be reviewed if they want to move to a different address, take up employment or if for some reason they can no longer meet the obligations of their order.

When an application is made to review a home detention order, the court can:

  • discharge the order;
  • revoke the order and confirm the sentence of imprisonment or revoke the order and resentence the offender for the offending;
  • vary the order’s terms and conditions.

When reviewing an order, the court must consider the amount of time the offender has complied with the order and any reports from Corrections.

Breaches

If a person is thought to have breached a home detention order, they may be summonsed or arrested and brought to court. If the court is satisfied that the order has been breached it must revoke the order (if the order is still in force) and imprison the offender for the term that was suspended. If the order has already expired when the breach is proven, the offender must be imprisoned for the period that was suspended regardless of the period of time for which they complied with the terms of the order.

An order is breached if any of the following occurs:

  • The offender does not remain at the premises or place specified in the order;
  • The offender does not comply with the terms of the order;
  • The offender wilfully destroys, damages or removed their approved monitoring device, or attempts to do so;
  • The offender fails to comply with a request to complete a breath test;
  • The offender disturbs or interferes with another person living at the premises or place;
  • The offender assaults, threatens, insults or uses abusive language towards a probation or parole officer;
  • The offender commits a criminal offence.

Young people and alternative detention orders

An alternative detention order is similar to a home detention order but it is made in relation to a young person in the Youth Justice Court. When a young person between the ages of 10 and 18 is sentenced to a term of detention, the court may suspend the term upon the young person agreeing to the terms of an alternative detention order if it considers it is desirable to do so.

The order must specify the place or premises the young person is to live at and can be made for a period of up to 12 months.

A young person on an alternative detention order may be required to submit to tests for alcohol or illicit drugs. Police and surveillance officers may enter the place or premises where the young person is living at any time without a warrant, in order to administer such a test.  

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection, domestic violence and family law in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
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