Good behaviour bonds are mentioned in criminal law, but they were replaced for the most part by community correction orders in 2018. Good behaviour bonds were when, instead of sentencing an offender to jail time, a judge ruled that they serve a type of probationary period where they were expected to comply with ‘good behaviour’ for a specified period of up to five years. In addition, a good behaviour bond could include certain additional conditions, such as regular check-ins with a probationary officer, mandatory participation in counselling and medical programs and, sometimes, even community service. The courts typically sentenced minors, juveniles or first-time offenders with these types of rulings. Don’t be fooled, though; a bond was a serious sentence, conditional upon one’s conduct. The court could also only issue a good behaviour bond when a sentence to a term of imprisonment was available.
Are All Good Behaviour Bonds the Same?
There were several types of behaviour bonds in New South Wales.
There was the Section 9 bond, where a person may receive a good behaviour bond instead of being sentenced to imprisonment. The court can impose this type of behaviour bond for up to five years.
Where the court reached a guilty verdict for an offence, the court may choose to make the offender’s discharge conditional upon their compliance with a good behaviour bond rather than proceeding with a conviction. If the bonded individual hadn’t breached the conditions of the bond at the end of its term, they would not be convicted for the offence. A Section 10 good behaviour bond and could last for up to two years.
A section 12 bond was where a person convicted and sentenced to imprisonment received a suspended sentence after entering into a good behaviour bond. The court could issue these bonds for periods not exceeding the imprisonment term or a maximum of two years.
A good behaviour bond issued in the Children’s Court cannot be imposed for longer than two years under the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987. This type of find can also be accompanied by a fine.
Why Would A Court Issue A Good Behaviour Bond?
In New South Wales, good behaviour bonds are typically governed by the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. Good behaviour bonds allow the offenders to serve their time out in the community rather than behind bars. Before being released into the community, the offender must accept the bond conditions and sign that they promise to comply with it. As a general rule, good behaviour bonds are issued for less serious offences, typically those committed by young perpetrators under the age of 25 who have previously been before the courts. As a result, the likelihood of the courts issuing a good behaviour bond without a recorded conviction to an offender found guilty of a minor indictable offence or a summary offence is higher than if they were guilty of a more serious crime. (This type of behaviour bond is now known as a conditional release order without conviction and is described in Section 10(1)(b) of the Act.)
A defence attorney can advise their client on how likely they will receive a good behaviour bond and the type of bond they might expect to receive.
The intent behind good behaviour bonds is to reduce the possibility of an individual re-offending by requiring them to meet certain conditions to avoid further penalties. When making such a ruling, the judge would consider the person’s previous criminal history, if any, how likely it was that the person would re-offend during the bond’s duration, and what risk the offender poses to the greater public. So, for example, new South Wales offenders receiving a section 10 conditional release or dismissal order with a good behaviour bond may avoid criminal convictions on their permanent record. That means that, although they’ve been found guilty of the offence, they will face no penalties, and no charges will appear on their permanent criminal record so long as they meet the conditions of their bond.
What is Expected Of Someone on a Good Behaviour Bond?
Expectations are explained when the sentence is given, or they should be. If you are unsure about what your obligations are, you should speak with your attorney immediately. If you feel that what is expected is unreasonable, you should talk with your attorney and get legal advice. Sometimes, where the terms are legally interpreted to be unreasonable, terms can be altered through the court. The first thing, of course, is to ensure that you are fully aware of what is expected of you.
The term ‘good behaviour’ can be subjective and, therefore, open to interpretation. That is another reason why people need to be sure of their expectations on good behaviour bonds. There used to be something known as ‘common sense’, meaning a commonly held opinion on a particular mode of conduct. In legal terms, they tend to operate on the premise of what is reasonable or how a reasonable person would behave.
Typical Conditions of Good Behaviour Bonds
Specific conditions of particular good behaviour bonds are listed and aimed at your circumstances and those of the crime you committed. For example, every good behaviour bond issued by the New South Wales court includes the condition that the person behaves well and appears for sentencing before the court if called upon to do so.
The court might impose any number of conditions, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Refraining from association with particular people.
- Expected to keep regular appointments with a parole officer for the duration of the bond.
- Attending mandatory rehabilitation or counselling to address underlying issues, such as drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
- Restricted from participating in specific activities.
- Refrain from assaulting, molesting or harassing another individual.
- Complying with any treatment or medication plan set by a trained doctor.
What Happens When A Good Behaviour Bond is At an End?
If the bonded person adheres to the conditions of their bond, it should automatically expire at the end of the sentenced term. Things become a little more tricky when a bond has been breached or broken. While on a bond requiring positive behaviour, a person cannot commit an offence other than a traffic violation. If they do, the court is not notified until after the bond’s expiration date.
Anyone caught committing another offence while on a good behaviour bond will generally involve a fine and an Intensive Correction Order (ICO) in New South Wales. An ICO is the most severe sentence able to be served within the community. It is a court sentence of two years, or less, served under the strict supervision of Community Corrections. These orders can only be issued for domestic violence offences when the court is satisfied that the offender’s victim, and anyone the offender is likely to live with, will be adequately protected. The community’s safety is of paramount importance when the court is determining whether to make an ICO.
What Happens If Someone Breaches Their Good Behaviour Bond?
Of course, the best option is not to commit further violations or crimes while on a good behaviour bond. However, should a person breach their bond, they would be brought before the court for review, and those violations dealt with accordingly.
In New South Wales, there are a selection of penalties that a judge could decide to impose if the bonded individual fails to uphold their vow to adhere to the conditions of the bond. The judge would often summon the individual to return to court, but there are occasions when a warrant for the person’s arrest is issued instead.
The magistrate may issue a warning without taking further action. However, they also have the power to alter the bond’s conditions or to cancel the bond entirely. If they decide to revoke the bond, they may also impose an alternate penalty for the offence, usually more severe than the original sentence. A judge may also choose to enter a conviction for the crime if the individual was on a section 10 bond.
Suppose a bonded person breaches their contractual agreement by committing another offence. In that case, the sentence for that offence is likely to be more severe than it would otherwise be because it was committed while on conditional release, for which you promised to adhere to the conditions imposed.
If a bond is revoked and the original sentence of imprisonment ordered, incarceration commences immediately. However, the court may decide to order the sentence to be served in full-time jail. It may also be an intensive correction order or home detention where the individual is assessed to be suitable.
How is a Good Behaviour Bond Imposed?
Good behaviour bonds are covered in criminal law. When considering whether to impose a good behaviour bond, a magistrate also needs to weigh whether or not to record a conviction.
In New South Wales, such considerations include:
- The history and character of the defendant.
- The impact imposing a conviction would have on the economic and social wellbeing of the defendant, including their prospects for future employment.
- How severe their offence was.
- Any extenuating circumstances.
As with all facets of criminal law in Australia, the decision to impose a good behaviour bond is not entered into lightly. Making the decision not to record a conviction in no way dismisses any conditions the court imposes, and the magistrate may still decide to impose a fine or require the defendant to pay restitution or compensation to any victims of their crime.
FAQs About Good Behaviour Bonds
1. Are Good Behaviour Bonds Effective?
Answer: A NSW study and found that good behaviour bonds were less effective than community service orders, which required unpaid community work to be performed by the offender. The magistrate could impose up to 500 hours of unpaid community work. However, the court can’t impose good behaviour bonds and community service orders for the same offence. As a result, community correction orders (CCOs) were brought in on September 24, 2018, as a sentencing option after the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Amendment (Sentencing Options) Act 2017 commenced.
2. Is A Conditional Release Order The Same As A Good Behaviour Bond?
Answer: Yes, and no. Conditional Release Orders (CROs) replaced Section 10 good behaviour bonds, although the only real change is replacing the words ‘good behaviour bond’ with ‘conditional release order’.
3. What Happens If A Good Behaviour Bond Is Breached In New South Wales?
Answer: If offenders breach their good behaviour bond in New South Wales, they will be sent to prison by the court because the order suspending their sentence has effectively been broken and ceases to exist.
4. Can I Travel Overseas While On A Good Behaviour Bond?
Answer: That all depends on whether the judge attached any conditions that would prevent the offender from leaving Australia and the destination country’s visa requirements.