If you are guilty of a criminal offence you face a number of potential penalties, including having a lifelong criminal record, and in the case of traffic offences, being disqualified from driving.
A criminal conviction can significantly impact your future employment prospects in certain professions, and it can limit your travel and ability to obtain visas in the future.
In some cases, it might be possible to avoid this scenario by asking the magistrate for a non conviction order, commonly known as a ‘section 10’.
What is a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order?
Under a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order, a magistrate will find you guilty of an offence, but you won’t be penalised.
Gaining a non conviction order means you avoid having a criminal conviction recorded against you, and you won’t face imprisonment, be fined or lose your licence, where applicable.
Do conditions apply?
In some cases, you can be given a non conviction order on a conditional basis.
This is called a ‘section 10 bond’ (now conditional release order without conviction).
Section 10 bonds (now conditional release orders without conviction) can last up to 2 years, and the typical conditions are that:
(1) You must be of good behaviour, which means you must not commit any further criminal offences
(2) You must come to court if asked to do so. But you would normally only be asked to come back to court if you commit a further criminal offence, and
(3) You must notify the court office of any change of address.
If you reoffend while the bond is in force, you will normally be called back to court and resentenced for your original offence; in other words, for the offence for which you got a.
Also, the fact you were on a bond can make the later offence look more serious, and you can get a harsher penalty than if you were not on a bond when you committed it.
The bottom line is: never offend while on a section 10 bond (now conditional release order without conviction)!
How can I get a non conviction order?
Your criminal lawyer will advise you as to whether a non conviction order is appropriate for your situation, and will apply to the magistrate on your behalf.
It is up to your lawyer to convince the magistrate to give you a non conviction order, and this is generally done by providing evidence of your character, and demonstrating the impact that a criminal conviction and/or driving disqualification would have on your employment and lifestyle.
Is there anything that can increase my chances of a non conviction order?
There are a number of things you can do to help improve your chances of successfully obtaining a non conviction order, including:
- Providing character references from at least three people who know you personally, and can provide examples of your good character. Your lawyer will advise you how to obtain these, and what information needs to be included.
- Letting the magistrate know of any extenuating circumstances that were in place at the time of the offence. This can include difficult life circumstances, personal problems, or anything else out of the ordinary that might have contributed to you committing the offence.
- Addressing any underlying issues that might have played a part. Demonstrating that you are taking steps to address any drug or alcohol issues, or seeking counselling for any personal issues that might have been a factor in the offence, shows the magistrate you understand the seriousness of the charges, and are taking steps to ensure you don’t offend again.
The nature of the offence is a significant factor that will be taken into consideration when you apply for a non conviction order.
Although it is possible to get a non conviction order for a serious offence, the more trivial the offence, the more likely it is that the magistrate will award a non conviction order.
Here is some more information about non conviction order, and how Sydney Criminal Lawyers® can help you successfully apply for and obtain a non conviction order for your criminal or traffic charge.