WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF PENALTIES IN QUEENSLAND FOR CRIMINAL OFFENCES?
There are a number of different penalties Courts can impose, which are briefly covered below.
Good Behaviour Bond (Recognisance Order)
A good behaviour bond (GBB) is essentially a promise to be of good behaviour for a specific time frame. The Magistrate/Judge will set a monetary amount of money that is liable to be forfeited in the event that you breach the GBB. Additional requirements can also be attached to the GBB, such as attending the drug diversion counselling program.
A fine is a monetary penalty determined by the Judge/Magistrate. The Magistrate/Judge will generally provide a time frame within which the fine must be paid. In determining the amount of a fine the Judge or Magistrate must have regard to the defendant’s financial circumstances. Fines are generally referred to the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry (SPER).
A Probation Order is a community based order, whereby the defendant is released into the community under the supervision of a Department of Corrective Services Officer (Probation Officer). The Probation Officer will monitor the progress and rehabilitation of the defendant while they are subject to the order. Persons who are subject to Probation Orders are expected to regularly report to their Probation Officer.
The Probation Order can have a number of special conditions attached to it, depending on the circumstances (what a person must do while subject to the order), such as participating in programs or counselling and being subject to random drug and/or alcohol testing.
A Probation Order can only be made if the defendant agrees to the Order being made.
The maximum period a Probation Order can be for is 3 years.
If you fail to comply with the Probation Order, you can be returned to Court and dealt with for breaching the order. This can involve being re-sentenced for the offences you were originally placed on the order.
A Probation Order can be made without the Court recording a conviction.
A Community Service Order is a community based order, whereby the defendant is released into the community and ordered to perform unpaid community service.
The Order can only be made if the defendant agrees to the order being made.
The minimum number of hours a Community Service Order can be for is 40 hours and the maximum number of hours is 240 hours.
A Community Service Order can be made without the Court recording a conviction (this means the Court does not have to record a conviction for this order to be made).
Intensive Correction Order (ICO)
An Intensive Correction Order (ICO) is a term of imprisonment that is served within the community. The Court can make an ICO if it sentences a person to a term of imprisonment for less than 1 year.
If the Court makes an ICO, it must record a conviction.
An ICO can only be made if the defendant agrees to the Order being made.
An ICO is considered to be like a combination of Probation and Community Service. A person who is subject to an ICO will be expected to:
- report to the Probation and Parole Officer at least 2 times a week.
- report to and receive visits from the Probation and Parole Officer.
- attend programs and/or counseling as directed.
- undertake up to 12 hours community service each week as directed by the Probation and Parole Officer.
Suspended Term of Imprisonment (Suspended Sentence)
A suspended sentence allows a person to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment and to serve some, or all of their sentence outside of prison.
A suspended sentence can only be imposed where the total period of imprisonment is not more than 5 years.
For any suspended sentence, there is an “operational period” of the sentence. The operational period is the period of time during which you must not commit another offence punishable by imprisonment to avoid being dealt with for breaching the sentence.
There are two types of suspended sentences: –
(1) Wholly suspended sentence– this means that you do not have to go to prison at all.
An example of a sentence would be 3 years imprisonment wholly suspended for an operational period of 4 years. This would mean that your sentence is 3 years and that you cannot commit another offence punishable by imprisonment during the next 4 years, to avoid being sentenced for breaching the Order.
(2) Partially suspended sentence– this means that you have to serve some time in prison after which you will be released.
An example of a sentence would be 3 years imprisonment suspended after 8 months for an operational period of 4 years. This would mean that your sentence is 3 years imprisonment, but you have to spend 8 months in prison before being released, and that you cannot commit another offence punishable by imprisonment during the 4 years after the sentence, to avoid being sentenced for breaching the Order.
What happens if you commit an offence punishable by imprisonment during the operational period of the suspended sentence?
You will be in breach of the suspended sentence and the Court is likely to sentence you for breaching the Order.
If you breach the suspended sentence, the starting point for the Court is to order you to serve the whole of the balance of the suspended sentence. The caveat for this, is that the Court is not to make such an Order if it would be unjust to do so. There are a number of factors the Court must have regard to, including: –
- the nature of the offence and the circumstances in which it was committed.
- the proportion between the culpability of the offender for the subsequent offence and the consequence of activating the whole of the suspended imprisonment.
- the antecedents and any criminal history of the offender.
- the prevalence of the original and subsequent offences.
- anything that satisfies the Court that the prisoner has made a genuine effort at rehabilitation since the original sentence was imposed.
Imprisonment with actual time in prison
If you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment that is not suspended, the Court will generally set a parole release date or a parole eligibility date.
Parole Release Date – a certain date that you will be released from prison.
Parole Eligibility Date – a date upon which you are eligible to apply to the parole board to be released onto parole. Unlike a parole release date, there is no certainty as to when you will be released from prison.
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