What is ‘Section 10’ – Criminal law

When a person is charged by the police and they come before the court it can be an extremely daunting experience.  The question often raised is what will the Court do in relation to sentencing?

There remains the concern in most people’s minds of what will happen to them if they should be convicted by the court.  For many people they will wonder how this may affect them into the future in relation to their reputation in the community, their job, career, immigration and family.

“The courts are aware that the legal and social consequences of being convicted of an offence often extend beyond any penalty imposed by the court”.

Section 10 provides a person with a safety switch where a court can ensure that justice can be served in circumstances where despite a breach of the law, there are extenuating circumstances or the matter is so trivial that punishment does not seem appropriate.

S10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, identifies the following three orders which can be made with a court decides not to convict an offender.  This was previously known as a Good Behaviour Bond but has now been replaced with a Community Release Order (CRO) since 24 September 2018:-

  1. S10 (1) (a) – Dismissal of relevant charge/s
  2. S10 (1) (b) – Discharge the person under a Conditional release order.
  3. S10 (1) (c) – Discharge the person on condition of participation in an Intervention program.

Section 10 orders can be made with or without conditions by the court.

In deciding whether a court should make a Section 10 order the court will have regard to the following factors:-

  • The person’s character, antecedents, age, health and mental condition;
  • The trivial nature of the offence;
  • The extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed;
  • Any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider

An example of extenuating circumstances which may justify an order under S10 may be where a person is suddenly compelled in an emergency situation to drive someone to hospital.

The main people who benefit from the court imposing a Section 10 are ‘first offenders’.   This allows people who have never previously committed an offence and been before the court to have a second chance to maintain their reputation and good character.

A Section 10 can also be considered by the court for people in the community who suffer from a mental health condition.  The court can consider a person’s mental health at the time of sentencing.  This is different to a Section 32, where a person may ask the court to consider the reasons for offending were due to a mental health condition.  A person in those circumstances may ask the court to consider dealing with the matter under the Mental Health Act as opposed to under the criminal law act.

Whilst the criteria a court may consider in giving a person a Section 10, is the trivial nature of the offence, it can also consider it for offences which are not considered trivial.  Although the chances of obtaining a Section 10 order decrease when the offence is more serious.

For example a Section 10 will rarely be given to a person before the court on a High Range Drink driving offence.

At the same time in a matter of Affray, the court has given in certain circumstances a Section 10 to an offender.

Section 10 – Driving Offenses

A section 10 can also be important for you when it comes to retaining your driver’s licence.

As if you are able to have the court give you a Section 10, RMS cannot record demerit points against you in respect of the offence.

This can mean the difference between retaining your job or losing it for many people.

There does remain a restriction on the court’s power to make an Order under S10, where the person has had the benefit of one in the previous five (5) years.

There are also some exclusions which apply as well depending on the type of traffic matter before the courts.

Obtain legal advice

If you are uncertain whether you would be eligible or how to go about obtaining a Section 10, you should contact us for a free initial appointment.

As qualified and experienced lawyers we have over 20 years experience of representing clients at court.

We have an excellent record of achieving Section 10 – non convictions for our clients.