Since September 24, 2018, conditional release orders (CROs) have been introduced to replace section 10(1)(b) good behaviour bonds under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. CROs offer individuals who plead guilty or are convicted of criminal or significant traffic offences an alternative to severe penalties, potentially avoiding a criminal record based on their compliance with order conditions.
According to section 9 of the Act:
“9(1) Instead of imposing a sentence of imprisonment or a fine (or both) on an offender, a court that finds an individual guilty of an offence can issue a conditional release order that releases the offender, if:
(a) the court proceeds with a conviction, or
(b) the court does not proceed with a conviction but makes an order under Section 10 bond.
(2) When considering whether to issue a conditional release order with a conviction, the sentencing court must take into account the following factors:
(a) the person’s character, prior history, age, health, and mental condition,
(b) whether the offence is of minor significance,
(c) the mitigating circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence,
(d) any other factors that the court deems relevant to consider.”
This implies that CROs are more likely for less serious offences when there are underlying reasons and the defendant has good character.
CROs are not limited to specific offences; they can be issued at the court’s discretion for any offence.
It’s important to note that a CRO cannot be granted in the defendant’s absence.
A CRO must include the following obligations:
1. The defendant must not commit additional offences.
2. The defendant must appear in court when called upon to do so.
Additional conditions may include:
1. Participating in rehabilitation programs or treatment.
2. Abstaining from alcohol, drugs, or both.
3. Avoiding specific individuals.
4. Not visiting certain places.
5. Being supervised by community corrections officers.
The defendant or a community corrections officer can apply to the court to modify or introduce CRO conditions, except for mandatory ones.
A CRO can last up to two years.
If a breach is suspected, the defendant might appear in court. Upon confirming a breach, the court can:
Revocation leads to resentencing for the initial offence.
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