Suspended sentence


A suspended sentence (otherwise known as a Section 12 good behaviour bond) is a prison sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond.

The prison sentence will not come into effect, provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years.

Steps taken by the court to impose a suspended sentence:

  • The court first determines whether a sentence of imprisonment is required. A court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless it is satisfied, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate.
  • Once the court decides that imprisonment is the correct punishment required, the court determines the length of the sentence. When determining how long the sentence of imprisonment should be, the court should not consider how the sentence will be served.
  • If the term of imprisonment is two years or less, the court decides whether the sentence should be suspended.

What happens if a suspended sentence is breached?

Section 98(3) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure)Act1999 provides that, in the case of a breach of a section 12 bond, the court must revoke the order, unless it is satisfied that:

  • the offender’s failure to comply with the bond was “trivial in nature” or
  • there are good reasons for excusing the offender’s failure to comply with the conditions of the bond.

On the day the bond is revoked, the prison sentence commences. However, all is not lost. You or your lawyer can request that you be permitted to serve the sentence by way of home detention or periodic detention. The court has the discretion at the time of revoking the suspended sentence to impose a sentence of periodic or home detention.

When is a non parole sentence set?

The law has recently changed in respect to when a non parole period is set by the court. Previously, the setting of the non-parole period occurred at the time the suspended sentence was imposed. Now the non-parole period is set after the good behaviour bond is revoked. This allows the court at the breach proceedings to consider the issue of special circumstances under section 44 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act and anything the offender has done since the suspended sentence was imposed when deciding the length of any parole period.

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