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Intensive Correction Orders (NSW)

An Intensive Correction Order (ICO) is an order of imprisonment which is served by way of intensive correction in the community. This means that the person does not go to prison, but is subject to strict conditions while continuing to live at home. A person can receive an ICO of up to three years for multiple offences, but not more than two years for a single offence. If an aggregate term of more than three years imprisonment needs to be imposed, then the court cannot order that the term be served in the form of an ICO.

When Is An Intensive Correction Order Imposed?

The power to impose an ICO is contained in Part 5 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. Section 66 of the Act states that community safety is the paramount consideration when imposing an ICO on an offender whose conduct would otherwise require them to serve a term of full-time imprisonment.

As aptly stated by the Attorney General, Mr Mark Speakman in the Second Reading Speech on 11 October 2017:

“Community safety is not just about incarceration. Imprisonment under two years is commonly not effective at bringing about medium- to long-term behaviour change that reduces reoffending. Evidence shows that community supervision and programs are far more effective at this. That is why proposed section 66 requires the sentencing court to assess whether imposing an intensive correction order or serving the sentence by way of full-time detention is more likely to address the offender’s risk of reoffending.”

Standard Conditions For Intensive Correction Orders

Section 73 provides that an ICO must consist of the following two standard conditions:

  • The person must not commit any further offences; and
  • The person must submit to supervision by a community corrections officer.

Additional Conditions For Intensive Correction Orders

Under section 73A of the Act, an ICO can also include additional conditions. These may be participation in a rehabilitation or treatment program, drug and/or alcohol abstention, non-association, place restriction, curfew, home detention and electronic monitoring.

A person can also be ordered to perform up to 750 hours of community service work as part of an ICO. An assessment report would first need to be prepared to confirm that they are suitable for community service work.

Further Conditions For Intensive Correction Orders

Under section 73B of the Act, the court can impose any other conditions deemed appropriate so long as those further conditions are not inconsistent with any standard or additional conditions to be imposed.

Assessment By Community Corrections

As ICOs place emphasise control and surveillance while the person serves a period of imprisonment within the community, a Sentencing Assessment Report must be prepared by Community Corrections (aka Probation & Parole) before an ICO can be considered by the court.

This means an officer from Community Corrections would interview the person prior to the final court date and prepare a report which addresses the following factors:

  • The person’s family background & social circumstances;
  • The person’s education and employment history;
  • Any factors related to the offending conduct, particularly the person’s attitude to the offence, insight into any underlying issues, demonstrated remorse and contrition, and resolutions not to re-offend.
  • Their overall assessment of the person.

The SAR will also recommend sentencing options to the court. The officer may find that certain sentencing options are not available (e.g. community service work) however the recommendations made by the officer are not binding and the court can impose any sentence it thinks is appropriate.

Breaches Of An ICO

Unlike breaches of a Conditional Release Order or a Community Corrections Order, breaches of an ICO are not dealt with by the courts. Rather, any failure to comply with an ICO may result in the Community Corrections Office (Probation & Parole) imposing harsher conditions or referring the person to the State Parole Authority. Ultimately, the ICO may be revoked with the consequence that the sentence of imprisonment is served as full-time custody (i.e. prison).

Community Corrections can take any of the following actions:

  • Record the breach and take no action; or
  • Provide the person with an informal warning; or
  • Provide a formal warning to the person and advise him/her that any further breaches will be reported to the Parole Authority;
  • Give a reasonable direction to the person; or
  • Impose a curfew of up to 12 hours in any 24 hour period; or
  • Notify the State Parole Authority through a report which would include a recommendation as to the type of action Community Corrections believes is appropriate for the Parole Authority to take. The Parole Authority would subsequently hold a hearing to determine whether the ICO should be revoked. If the ICO is revoked, the person should expect to serve the entire duration of the ICO in prison, not just the balance of the ICO. As such, compliance with an ICO is of the utmost importance for the entire duration of the ICO.

Are There Certain Offences For Which An ICO Is Not Available?

Yes. An ICO is not available for the following offences:

  • Murder and manslaughter;
  • Terrorism offences;
  • An offence involving the discharge of a firearm;
  • Prescribed sexual offences (including sexual touching without consent, sexual assault, possession/dissemination, or production of child abuse material, filming a person engaged in a private act or filming their private parts if the person is under the age of 16 years).

An ICO also cannot be imposed if the term of imprisonment for a single offence exceeds two years.

A sentencing court cannot impose an ICO if the person resides, or intends to reside, in a state or territory other than New South Wales unless that other state or territory is declared by the regulations to be an approved jurisdiction.

The above list is not exhaustive and this article is not intended as a replacement for tailored legal advice.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Elizabeth Tsitsos - Senior Associate - Sydney

This article was written by Elizabeth Tsitsos - Senior Associate - Sydney

Elizabeth is a highly accomplished defence lawyer with expertise in State and Commonwealth criminal matters including domestic violence, drug supply, sexual assaults including historical child sexual assault cases, and armed robberies involving joint criminal enterprises. Focusing her practice exclusively on criminal defence, Elizabeth has appeared for clients charged with murder, terrorism, sexual assault and drug supply, including cases involving large...

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