Commonwealth Penalties – Community Service Orders


Section 20AB of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cwth) empowers courts to the impose penalties for commonwealth offences that correspond with penalties available for state offences.

This means that because Community Service Orders are available for NSW state offences, such orders are also available for commonwealth offences.

A Community Service Order is an order to undertake unpaid work for a certain number of hours, up to a maximum of 500 hours.

The work must be completed within a 12 month period.

A court can impose a Community Service Order if:

  1. The person is a ‘suitable person’;
  2. A Community Service Order is ‘appropriate in all the circumstances’;
  3. Arrangements and work exist in the person’s area; and
  4. The person has signed an undertaking to comply with the Community Service Order.

In deciding whether to make a Community Service Order, the court will consider:

  1. Any assessment report eg pre-sentence report or psychological report; and
  2. Any evidence given in court by officer/s from the probation and parole service or similar court-linked organisation.