Suspended Sentences

Where a person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years or less, the court may suspend the sentence, pursuant to section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, and direct the person serve the sentence in the community. Where the court suspends the sentence, it must direct that the offender enter into a good behaviour bond for a term not exceeding that of the sentence.

Aside from being of good behaviour, additional conditions can be placed on a bond. The discretion as to conditions that may be attached to a bond is broad but not unlimited. The conditions must reasonably relate to the purpose of imposing a bond, that is, the punishment of a particular crime and rehabilitation. Conditions should not in their operation be unduly harsh or unreasonable or needlessly onerous. Common conditions of good behaviour bonds include to report to Probation and Parole, take medication as prescribed, and to continue psychological treatment.

Where a person breaches a section 12 good behaviour bond the court must revoke the bond unless it is satisfied that the offender’s failure to comply with the bond was either:

  • Trivial; or
  • There are good reasons for excusing the person’s failure to comply.

The principal consideration in assessing good reasons is the conduct giving rise to the failure to comply with the conditions of the bond and whether that conduct can be excused. Good reasons may include extenuating circumstances which explain the behaviour giving rise to the breach. A court cannot take into subjective matters relating to the offender that existed at the time of the breach proceedings, such as the offender’s need for rehabilitation rather than imprisonment.

Where a suspended sentence is revoked, a person will be sentenced to full time imprisonment unless the court refers the person to be assessed for home detention or an intensive correction order, and then directs the term of imprisonment to be served in that fashion.

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