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Conditional Release Order (CRO)

A Conditional Release Order (CRO) is a sentencing order that was introduced on 24 September 2018. A CRO is very similar to a good behaviour bond. CROs have standard conditions that apply, which are detailed below. The court can impose additional conditions; however, the court cannot impose a fine or community service in addition to, or as part of, the order.

When deciding whether to make a CRO, a court is required to consider:

  • the person’s character, age, health and mental condition;
  • whether the offence is of a trivial nature;
  • the extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed;
  • any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider.

A CRO can be made for a maximum period of 2 years.

Standard conditions

The standard conditions of a conditional release order are the following:

  • the offender must not commit any offence; and
  • the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the order.

Additional conditions

Additional conditions may be imposed on a CRO by the sentencing court at the time the sentence is passed or later, on the application of a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender.

The additional conditions that may be imposed include:

  • a rehabilitation or treatment condition requiring the offender to participate in a rehabilitation program or to receive treatment;
  • an abstention condition requiring abstention from alcohol and/or drugs;
  • a non-association condition prohibiting association with a particular person(s);
  • a place restriction condition prohibiting the frequenting of or visits to a particular place or area;
  • a supervision condition requiring the offender to submit to supervision—
    • by a community corrections officer, or
    • if the offender was under the age of 18 years when the condition was imposed, by a juvenile justice officer until the offender has reached that age.

Conditions which must not be imposed

An additional condition of any of the following kinds must not be imposed on a CRO:

  • a home detention condition;
  • an electronic monitoring condition;
  • a curfew condition;
  • a community service work condition.

The sentencing court may limit the period during which an additional condition on a CRO is in force.

The sentencing court cannot impose a fine as well as a conditional release order.

Further conditions

A court has the discretion to impose further conditions, so long as they are not inconsistent with the standard conditions or any additional conditions. This can be done when the court passes sentence, or subsequently on the application of a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender.

Such further conditions may include:

  • a condition requiring the offender to comply with the conditions of any apprehended violence order;
  • a condition requiring the offender to pay compensation for any damage caused in relation to the offence; or
  • a condition requiring the offender not to commit any traffic offences (although it is noted that some Magistrates and Judges differ in their view as to whether such an order is, or isn’t, appropriate).

Is a CRO a conviction and will I have a criminal record?

A person may be sentenced to a CRO with or without a criminal conviction being recorded. A CRO without conviction is commonly referred to as a section 10.

Generally speaking, a conviction will be recorded unless the sentencing court is persuaded there are good reasons for not doing so. What may, or may not be, good reasons for not recording a conviction will depend on the case and circumstances of the offender. Just because a person has never been before a court previously does not mean they will not be convicted. A Magistrate or Judge will assess all the relevant circumstances before making a determination. Some examples of where a person may get the benefit of a CRO without conviction might include:

  1. A person charged with Drive with Low Range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol who blew 0.051, has been driving for 30+ years with only one low-level speeding ticket on their record;
  2. An 18-year-old who was found in possession of a very small amount of cannabis who engaged in and completed drug counselling and rehabilitation prior to sentence; or
  3. A single mother of three kids with no immediate family support in Australia who, when caught shoplifting bread and milk, was extremely remorseful and showed police that she had only $0.63 in her bank account at the time.

If a conviction is recorded, it will generally be “spent” (that is, not appear on a national police check) after an offence-free period of 10 years.

If a conviction is not recorded, the finding of guilt will still be formally recorded. In practice, this means the offence and CRO may appear on a criminal record for the duration of the order. After the order is finished, it should not appear.

Orders made prior to 24 September 2018

Where a person was sentenced to a good behaviour bond (with or without conviction) prior to 24 September 2018, that bond was automatically converted to a CRO (with or without conviction, correspondingly).

If you require legal advice in relation to CROs or in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Aurhett Barrie - Solicitor – Sydney

This article was written by Aurhett Barrie - Solicitor – Sydney

As a former Judge’s Associate Aurhett has rare insight into how cases are heard and decided. This knowledge allows him to persuasively advocate for his clients’ interests, both inside and outside of a courtroom. He has spent his career practising exclusively in criminal and traffic law and has advised hundreds of clients on an extensive range of matters. He takes...

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