The Crimes Act 1914 contains a number of provisions enabling those who plead guilty or are found guilty of a Commonwealth criminal offence to avoid going to prison, despite a criminal conviction being recorded against them.
Section 20(1)(a) of the Act allows a court to order a person to enter into a good behaviour bond not exceeding 5 years rather than imposing a more serious penalty.
The conditions of the bond are to be of good behaviour – which means not commit a criminal offence within the duration of the bond – and either depositing money or agreeing to forfeit a sum of money in the event the bond is breached.
Other conditions of the bond may include:
- Undertaking mental health support or treatment, such as counselling,
- Complying with supervision by community corrections, and/or
- Paying a monetary order such restitution, reparations or compensation for the damage caused by the offence.
Breaching an order under section 20(1)(a) can result in a person being called back before the court and dealt with for the breach, in which case the court may:
- Take no action for the breach,
- Extend the period of complying with conditions of the order, or
- Revoking the order and imposing an alternative sentence, which may include full time imprisonment.