Stuart Barnett is our mining industry’s leading personal injury lawyer. This month he has some important advice in relation to getting a “second chance” from a Court.
Many of you will have seen in the media reports that a person appearing before the Court pleaded guilty and had “no conviction recorded” or was “placed on a good behavior bond with no conviction recorded”. You may even know someone who has had that happen to them. You may have wondered what that is and how they can plead guilty but not be convicted.
The laws that relate to the sentencing of persons before the Court for criminal matters provide for a situation where the Court feels for some reason that even though the person is guilty of an offence it is not appropriate to record a conviction. Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 allows a Court to simply dismiss the charges, place the person on a good behavior bond or require them to participate in an intervention program, all without recording a conviction.
Where the Court dismisses the charges that is usually the end of the matter. If on the other hand the Court places the person on a good behavior bond or requires them to participate in an intervention program then the person enters into an agreement or “bond” to be of good behavior for a certain period or to attend on a course to assist with their rehabilitation. If you commit another offence whilst on the bond, not only can you be dealt with for the new offence, you may find yourself back before the Court on the original charges and a conviction being recorded.
There can be many reasons why a Court decides to proceed this way. Normally there are extenuating circumstances relevant to the individual before the Court. It may also be that the offence was so trivial that the Court felt that coming to Court was penalty enough.
When determine whether a person deserves the benefit of not having a conviction recorded the Court will consider the persons character, age, health and mental condition. The trivial nature of the offence, the circumstances in which the offence was committed and any other extenuating circumstances relevant. Importantly the Court will also look at the persons’ criminal record. There are many examples of circumstances where persons receive the benefit of the section, a person with 20 to 30 years of unblemished driving or a person who has contributed a lot to their community over a long period and has a clear criminal record come to mind.
The use of this section is sometimes referred to as “Your last chance” or it might be said that “everyone deserves one break”. Remember, more likely than not, you will only ever be able to ask the Court for this benefit once unless there are special circumstances. The “last chance” has to be earned and even though the conviction is not recorded the fact that you received a section 10 sentence is recorded.
This is general advice and because your individual circumstances will vary I recommend seeking out specific advice for your needs.
Slater & Gordon Lawyers