Community-Based Orders (WA)
The law governing sentencing for criminal offences in Western Australia is the Sentencing Act 1995. Community-based orders are non-custodial orders that can be made under the Act. Community-based orders give the court options for supervising offenders while they continue to live in the community.
When a person is placed on a community-based order they are placed under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and they may be required to undergo treatment or take part in vocational, educational or personal development programs. The offender may also have to perform community service work as a condition of the order. A community corrections officer makes sure that the offender meets all the conditions the court has imposed. If the order includes supervision, then the offender must also report to the officer regularly during the period of the order.
Making a community-based order
When a court is considering making a community-based order, it will usually require a pre-sentence report to be prepared. The matter will usually have to be adjourned to a period while the report is prepared. This will involve staff from the Department of Corrections interviewing the offender and other persons involved to assess the person’s suitability for the order.
A community-based order may be made for any period from six months to two years.
When a community-based order is issued the offender must:
- Report to their community corrections officer within 72 hours of the sentence being delivered;
- Agree to advise their community corrections officer if they change their address or their employment;
- Agree not to leave the State without the permission of Community Corrections;
- Comply with the directions of Community Corrections;
- Comply with the terms of the order.
Requirements of a community-based order
There are three requirements that can be imposed on a community-based order in Western Australia. The court must include at least one of these requirements but can include as many as it chooses.
A supervision requirement requires the offender to be supervised so that their progress can be monitored and regular counselling given.
The community corrections officer will decide how often the offender needs to report to Corrections. This may be weekly or several times a week.
A program requirement requires the offender to participate in treatment and assessment for drug or alcohol abuse. There may also be a requirement that the person attend an educational, training, vocational or personal development program. The court can also direct that they live at a specific location so they can attend the relevant program.
Community service requirement
A community service requirement requires the offender to complete a specified number of hours of community work as a condition of the order. The number of hours may between 40 and 120 hours. In each 7-day period of the order, at least 12 hours must be worked.
A community service requirement may involve working with an organisation or the offender may have to join a group which is allocated work on outdoor community projects.
Spent conviction orders
In Western Australia courts have the power to make a spent conviction order at the time that they make a community-based order. This means that once the period of the community-based order has been successfully completed, the offender does not have to reveal the details of the conviction to anyone, except in exceptional circumstances.
Completing a community-based order
If the order is completed and no breaches alleged, the sentence is finalised. If the court decided to make a spent conviction order when the sentence was imposed, then no conviction will be recorded. If a spent conviction order was not made, the offender will have a conviction/s recorded against them for the offence/s.
Breach of a community-based order
If the offender is alleged to have breached the order by not complying with its terms or by committing another offence while the order is in place, the community corrections officer will prepare a breach report for the court. The case will then come back before the court. The offender may be re-sentenced for the original offences and may not receive the benefit of another community-based order. The offender will also be dealt with for the new offence.
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