What is a Community Correction Order in New South Wales?

by Sonia Hickey
Downing Centre Court 4.5

Australian bikini model Stevie Bamford has found herself in trouble with the law again, this time for credit card fraud. 

The model made global headlines in 2012 after lying about being sexually assaulted by a tuktuk driver while two other men held her down in Thailand and spent 15 days in notorious Baan Bang Jo prison.

She later declared that she had lied so that her boyfriend wouldn’t get upset that she returned to their accommodation later than she had intended to be. 

Previous offending 

Since then, the model has committed a string of offences. In March last year, Ms Bamford pleaded guilty to the aggravated entry of a home where she stole a silver watch, a water pipe, and a CCTV camera. She also admitted to entering a unit in Eastlakes with two men and another woman and stealing goods worth $400.

She was handed community correction orders for both offences, which she was in breach of when she spent a night in a luxury hotel room at the Hilton in Sydney, racking up more than $1500 in room charges on another woman’s credit card. 

Last week, she was sentenced to a 12-month community correction order for the credit card fraud. 

The court heard that she has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder – a mental illness that can be characterised by symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorders such as depression or mania – and is receiving treatment and medication. 

In sentencing, Magistrate Juliana Crofts noted the breach of the two previous corrections orders, saying “the court has a strong interest in making sure they are complied with and that breaching them has consequences.

“However, I note mental health concerns and positive engagement with the community corrections orders so the breaches are proven but no further action is to be taken.”

The charge of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception

Dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception is a type of fraud offence.

It is outlined in section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which states:

  1. A person who, by any deception, dishonestly:
    (a) obtains property belonging to another, or
    (b) obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage,

is guilty of the offence of fraud. Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove that:

  • By a deception, the defendant acted dishonestly, and
  • These actions created a financial advantage over another person’s property, or caused them to suffer a financial disadvantage, and
  • The actions were intentional or reckless.

If the prosecution is unable to prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is entitled to an acquittal.

Section 192B of the Crimes Act defines ‘deception’ as any intentional or reckless  deception, by words or other conduct, as to fact or as to law, including:

(a)  a deception as to the intentions of the person using the deception or any other person, or

(b)  conduct by a person that causes a computer, a machine or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to cause it to make.

What is a Community Correction Order in New South Wales?

On 24 September 2018, community correction orders replaced good behaviour bonds under section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and community service orders.

A community correction order can be thought of as a type of good behaviour bond with conditions, and is imposed in lieu of a prison sentence in New South Wales.

What are the conditions of a community correction order?

Community correction orders must contain the following ‘standard’ conditions:

  • The defendant must not commit any further offences, and
  • The defendant must attend court if called upon to do so.

A person will normally only be called to attend court if he or she breaches a condition of the order.

A court may also order that the defendant:

  • Be subject to a curfew not exceeding 12 hours in any 24 hour period,
  • Undertake community service work of up to 500 hours,
  • Participate in a rehabilitation program or receive treatment,
  • Abstain from alcohol and/or drugs,
  • Not associate with a particular person/s,
  • Not enter or frequent a particular place or area, and
  • Be supervised by community correction or, if under 18, by a juvenile justice officer.

A court cannot order community service unless it has obtained an assessment report regarding such a condition.

A court cannot order a CCO for a domestic violence offence unless it has considered the safety of the complainant.

Importantly, the court can limit the period that any additional condition applies; so, for example, a 3 year CCO may contain a curfew that lasts for only 3 months.

The following conditions cannot be included in a CCO:

  • Home detention,
  • Electronic monitoring, or
  • Curfew of more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period.

Can the conditions be changed?

The defendant or a community corrections officer can apply to a court to revoke, amend or add conditions to a CRO at any time after it is ordered.

However, the standard conditions must remain in place.

A community correction officer can suspend the supervision requirement or any curfew, non-association or place restriction conditions, whether unconditionally or subject to conditions.

How long can a community correction order last?

A CCO can last for up to three years.

What happens if I breach my community correction order?

If it is suspected that a CCO condition has been breached, the defendant may be ordered to attend court to determine whether a breach has in fact occurred.

If a breach is established, the court may:

  • take no action
  • add, change or revoke additional conditions, or
  • revoke the CCO in its entirety.

If the CCO is revoked, the defendant will be resentenced for the original offence.

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Author

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

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