Release Without Penalty (Qld)

In Queensland, when a person is found guilty of a criminal offence that is very low level, the court may decide to release them without penalty or with only a nominal penalty. This page deals with the orders that can be made when a court releases a person without penalty.

Why would a court release a person without penalty?

A court may release a person without punishment or with only a nominal punishment for any of the following reasons:

  • The offence was trivial
  • There were strong extenuating circumstances
  • The offender is very young and of prior good character
  • It is not appropriate to record a conviction for the offence
  • It is not appropriate to impose more than a nominal punishment for the offence

The Queensland legislation does not use the words ‘dismissal of charges’. However, the procedures outlined in section 19 and set out below are the equivalent of provisions relating to the dismissal of charges in other states.

Where no conviction is recorded

Under section 19 of the Penalties and Sentencing Act 1992, when a person is found guilty of an offence but no conviction is recorded, the court may make any of the following orders:

  • An order releasing the person absolutely
  • An order that the person be released upon enter into a recognisance (or bond) to be of good behaviour and appear before the court if called upon to do so.

Absolute release

If a person is found guilty without conviction and released absolutely, there are no further consequences for them. The person will have a finding of guilt recorded on their criminal history, but no conviction. A finding of guilt does not have to be disclosed to third parties. However, if the person is later sentenced for another offence, the finding of guilty will be treated as a prior offence for sentencing purposes.

Section 19 good behaviour bond

If a person is released without conviction on a recognisance to be of good behaviour, they must abide by the following conditions for a period of up to three years:

  • To be of good behaviour
  • To appear before the court if called up on to do so
  • Any other conditions the court considers appropriate

A bond may be imposed under section 19 in a case where the court considers that the level of offending warrants a nominal penalty but no more. If the offender complies with the conditions of the bond, there will be no further consequences for them. If the offender breaches the conditions of the bond, the court may resentence them for the original offence.

Where conviction is recorded

In Queensland, courts do not have the power to release a person absolutely after a conviction has been recorded. If a court finds someone guilty of an offence and determines that a conviction should be recorded, but the offending only warrants a nominal penalty, it may sentence the person to a good behaviour bond under section 31.

Section 31 good behaviour bonds

When a person has been convicted of an offence by the Magistrates Court or Children’s Court, they may be sentenced to a good behaviour bond under section 31. This bond can be made for a period of up to one year. If the offender complies with the bond by staying out of trouble for that period, there are no further consequences.   

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


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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