Section 10 is a part of the law that allows a court not to record a criminal conviction against a person who is guilty of a crime.
This means that – if the court uses ‘section 10’ – you will not have a criminal conviction against your name and can answer ‘no’ when asked ‘do you have any criminal convictions?’.
It is common for that question to be asked when you apply for a job or a visa.
What does the law say?
Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) says that, where a person is guilty of a crime, the court may nevertheless decide not to convict him or her, but instead either:
- dismiss the charge/s unconditionally (ss(1)(a)), or
- discharge the charge/s on the condition that he or she enters a good behaviour bond not exceeding 2 years (ss(b)).
Importantly, no conviction is recorded in either case; in other words, you do not get a ‘criminal record’ for the offence.
A ‘section 10 bond’ will only be ordered if:
- it is ‘inexpedient’ to inflict punishment; in other words, there is no real advantage or benefit in punishing you (ss(2)(a)); or
- it is ‘expedient’ to release you on a good behaviour bond (ss(b)).
In deciding whether to grant a ‘section 10 bond’, the court must consider:
- your ‘personal character, antecedents… [ie history] age, health and mental condition’ (ss(3)(a));
- ‘the trivial nature of the offence’ (ss(b));
- any ‘extenuating circumstances’; in other words, things that may explain the offence eg speeding to get an injured friend to hospital etc (ss(c)); and
- ‘any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider’ (ss(d)).
A person given a ‘section 10 bond’ may still, however, be ordered to pay for, deliver or restore stolen property (ss(4)(a) & (c)) and/or to pay compensation to a victim of his or her crime (ss(b)).
Section 13 of the Act says that you cannot get both community service and a good behaviour bond for the same offence; they are alternative penalties only.
For more information on ‘section 10’ see Section 10 – No Criminal Conviction