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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Good Behaviour Bonds (Vic)


Good behaviour bonds in Victoria are also known as adjourned undertakings. Courts have the power to impose adjourned undertakings the Sentencing Act 1991. A good behaviour bond requires the defendant to comply with conditions including not to commit any criminal offences for a specified period. This article deals with good behaviour bonds in Victoria.

If a person is found guilty of a criminal offence, the court can impose an adjourned undertaking either with or without recording a conviction. The undertaking can be imposed for a period of up to 5 years. The defendant must agree to all of the terms of the undertaking.

If a person complies with all of the terms of a good behaviour bond are complied, on the adjourned date the court must discharge them with no further hearing or penalty. If they commit a further offence before the adjourned date, they must be resentenced fo the original offence as well as being dealt with for the new offence.

Good behaviour bonds and children

In Victoria, courts may impose good behaviour bonds on children.

Under section 367 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the Children’s Court may adjourn criminal proceedings against a young person without conviction by imposing a good behaviour bond for a period of up to one year (or in exceptional circumstances and where the young person is aged 15 or older, up to 18 months).

If the young person complies with all of the conditions of the bond for the period of the order, the court will dismiss the charge without recording a conviction. If the young person breaches any of the conditions of the good behaviour bond, the court may either declare the bond forfeited and keep any bond money and impose no further penalty, or hold another hearing and impose a different sentence.

What is the purpose of good behaviour bonds?

When the court gives a person the opportunity of a good behaviour bond or adjourned undertaking under section 72 of the Sentencing Act , it may do so for a number of purposes. These include:

  • to give the person an opportunity to rehabilitee themselves by allowing their sentence to be served in the community unsupervised;
  • to recognise the technical, trivial, or minor nature of the offence;
  • as a sentencing option with which it would be appropriate not to record a conviction;
  • as an option in circumstances where it is inappropriate to impose anything other than a nominal punishment;
  • where there are extenuating or exceptional circumstances that justify the court showing mercy.

Conditions

The conditions that are usually imposed as part of a good behaviour bond or adjourned undertaking are that the defendant must be of good behaviour (including not committing any further criminal offences) for the period of the adjournment, and/or pay a sum of money into the court fund. The court may also impose other conditions – for example, that the defendant must undertake a particular treatment regime or education program during the adjournment period.

Compensation or restitution orders can also be made in favour of any victims of the offending.

Varying or cancelling good behaviour bonds

An application can be made to vary or cancel an order for a good behaviour bond under certain circumstances. This application can be made by the defendant, the prosecution or certain other persons at any time while the order is in force. Such an application can be made if:

  • the defendant’s circumstances have materially changed since the order was made and the defendant can no longer comply with one of more of the conditions;
  • the information presented to the court regarding the defednant’s circumstances was not accurate;
  • the defendant is no longer willing to comply with the conditions of the undertaking.

If the good behaviour bond is cancelled the court can deal with the defendant in any way it could have if it had just found them guilty of the offence. Any variation of the order or re-sentence after cancellation of the order must take into account anything the defednant has done in compliance with the adjourned undertaking.

If a defendant does not come to court on the day the application is heard, a warrant may be issued for their arrest.

Breaches of good behaviour bonds

If a person fails to comply with the conditions attached to their good behaviour bond, they are in breach of the bond. A defendant who breaches a bond may be called back to court for re-sentencing. If they do not attend court for re-sentencing, then a warrant can be issued for their arrest.

When re-sentencing a defendant, the court can impose any sentence that is available for the offence but must take into consideration anything that has been done by the defendant under the good behaviour bond.

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

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