On 24 September 2018, conditional release orders replaced good behaviour bonds under section 10(1)(b) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
Conditional release orders are a way for a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty of a criminal or major traffic offence to avoid a harsh penalty, or even a criminal conviction altogether, provided they comply with the conditions of the order.
The new law is contained in section 9 of the Act which states:
“9(1) Instead of imposing a sentence of imprisonment or a fine (or both) on an offender, a court that finds a person guilty of an offence may make a conditional release order discharging the offender, if:
(a) the court proceeds to conviction, or
(b) the court does not proceed to conviction but makes an order under Section 10 bond (now conditional release order without conviction).
(2) In deciding whether to make a conditional release order with a conviction, the sentencing court is to have regard to the following factors:
(a) the person’s character, antecedents, age, health and mental condition,
(b) whether the offence is of a trivial nature,
(c) the extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed,
(d) any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider.”
This means a conditional release order is more likely where an offence less serious, there were reasons behind its commission and the defendant is otherwise a person of good character.
That said, conditional release orders are not restricted to specific categories of offences – rather, a court can order a CRO for any offence.
CROs cannot be made in the absence of the defendant.
A CRO must contain the following conditions:
A person will only normally be called upon to attend court if he or she breaches the order.
Additional conditions that can be placed on a CRO are:
A CRO cannot include:
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 mandatory conditions must remain in place.
A CRO can last for up to two years.
If it is suspected that a CRO 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:
If the CRO is revoked, the defendant will be resentenced for the original offence.