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Can I avoid a criminal record?

The sentencing statistics for assault charges indicate that the majority of offenders are convicted and therefore receive a criminal record. However, for all assault charges a court has the discretion not to convict you but deal with you under the terms of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. If you are not convicted, there will be no penalty and no criminal record.

What is a section 10?

The expression ‘section 10’ refers to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. This section allows a court that finds you guilty of an offence, to discharge you without recording a conviction. Because there is no conviction, there is no criminal record.

How can I obtain a section 10?

Courts do not give out section 10’s lightly. A court will usually need a lot of convincing before granting you a section 10. The law says that in deciding whether to give a person a section 10, the court must consider the following issues:

  • Your age, character, record, health and mental condition
  • The trivial nature of the offence
  • Any extenuating circumstances
  • Anything else the court perceives to be relevant

Can I pay a greater fine to avoid being convicted?

It is not possible to bargain with the court that you pay a larger fine to avoid a criminal conviction. If the court deals with you under the terms of section 10 there will be no fine, but there may be court costs (normally less than $80).

What are my chances of obtaining a section 10?

The Table below indicates the percentage of offenders dealt with under section 10 for each assault charge type:


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