Section 10(1)(a) Dismissals


Dismissals under section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 – along with section 10(1)(c) bonds linked to ‘intervention programs’ – survived the state’s sentencing reforms which commenced on 24 September 2018.

A section 10(1)(a) dismissal is where a person pleads ‘guilty’ or is found ‘guilty’ of a criminal offence – including a ‘major traffic offence’ such as drink driving – but the court decides not to impose a criminal conviction (criminal record), fine, good behaviour bond or, in driving cases, licence disqualification.

It is considered to be the most lenient penalty for guilty persons.

What does section 10(1)(a) say?

Section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) gives the court power to deal with ‘guilty’ persons by dismissing’ the charge/s completely.

The important thing is that there is no criminal conviction, no good behaviour bond, no fine and – in driving cases – no licence disqualification.

Who can get a section 10 dismissal?

Section 10 dismissals are available for all criminal charges and driving charges.

The court must consider the following matters when deciding whether to grant a section 10 dismissal:

(a) the person’s character, antecedents (ie history), age, health and mental condition,

(b) the trivial nature of the offence,

(c) the extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed, and

(d) any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider.

Does the offence have to be ‘trivial’ to get a section 10 dismissal?

Not necessarily. Although someone is more likely to get a section 10 dismissal if the offence is ‘trivial’ (ie not serious), the cases make it clear the section can be used for very serious offences also.

What are ‘extenuating circumstances’?

An ‘extenuating circumstance’ is something out-of-the-ordinary that can partly explain why the offence was committed.

For example, in the case of R v Paris [2001], the defendant’s wife tormented and assaulted him before he ‘lost the plot’, grabbed a knife and committed offences against police.

Similarly, the defendant in the case of R v Piccin (No 2) [2001] had a terrible life whereby she lost her husband, was then ‘duped’ by a con-artist out of her home and two business and was then ‘dumped’ by her new partner (the man she assaulted).

Although such circumstances do not excuse the conduct, they can go some way towards explaining it and increasing the chances of a section 10 dismissal

How do I increase my chances of getting a section 10 dismissal?

Your chances of getting a section 10 dismissal are better if you provide the court with material showing that:

  • you are a person of good character, which can be done by preparing up to 3 character references (see character reference guide); and/or
  • the offence occurred during a difficult time in your life, which can be shown by preparing ‘written instructions’ for your lawyer (which is just a handwritten outline of the events leading up to the incident) which your lawyer can use when addressing the court, and/or
  • you have taken steps towards addressing any underlying issues, which can be done through attending counselling, attending a course (eg anger management, drug and alcohol etc) and/or seeing a psychologist / psychiatrist and having your lawyer obtain a report.

For driving offences, the chances of getting a section 10 dismissal are better if you complete a Traffic Offender Program.

An early plea of ‘guilty’ is also relevant as it shows that you quickly accepted responsibility and are remorseful.

If you are going to court and would like to arrange a free conference to discuss your options and the best way forward, call us today on (02) 9261 8881.

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