This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts. She also completed a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the College of Law in Victoria. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Suspended Sentence (WA)


A suspended sentence of imprisonment is a sentencing order that involves the of offender remaining living in the community after being sentenced to jail on the condition that they do not commit a further offence that is punishable by imprisonment. If an offender breaches a suspended sentence, they are generally ordered to serve the term of imprisonment that was ordered in prison. Suspended sentences have been abolished in some states, however, Western Australia retains the suspended sentence as a sentencing option.

What is a suspended sentence?

A suspended sentence is a sentence of imprisonment where the offender does not have to go to prison, but is allowed to remain in the community under certain conditions. The term of imprisonment that was imposed ‘hangs over’ the offender for a period of time that the court has specified (not for longer than 24 months). This is known as the operational period.

 If the offender commits another criminal offence that is punishable by imprisonment during the operational period of their suspended sentence, they will generally be ordered to serve the term that was suspended in prison. However, where there are exceptional circumstances, a court may not order an offender who has breached a suspended sentence to serve the sentence in prison or may only order them to serve part of the sentence. 

If the suspension period passes without a further criminal offence being committed, the offender is discharged from the sentence without having to serve any time in prison.

When can a suspended sentence be imposed?

Section 76 of the Sentencing Act sets out the circumstances where a term of imprisonment may be suspended in Western Australia and those where it may not be.

A suspended sentence can be ordered where a term of imprisonment of 60 months or less is appropriate.

Suspended imprisonment may not be imposed if:

  • The offence was committed while the person was on an early release order (for example, parole or home detention);
  • The offence was committed while the person was serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Breaches of suspended sentences

When an offender breaches a suspended sentence in Western Australia by committing another criminal offence (in WA or elsewhere) that attracts imprisonment, the court must either:

  • Order them to serve the term suspended;
  • Order them to serve part of the term suspended
  • Substitute another suspension period for the period originally imposed;
  • Fine the offender an amount of up to $6,000.

The court must order the offender to serve the term suspended unless it would be unjust in the circumstances to do so. If the court does not order the offender to serve the term that was suspended, it must provide written reasons.

Conditional suspended imprisonment (CSI)

A sentence of imprisonment may be suspended conditionally in Western Australia. The standard conditions imposed are:

  • The offender must report to Community Corrections within the first 72 hours after their release;
  • The offender must not leave the state without permission;
  • The offender must inform Community Corrections of any change of residential address or employment details within two working days of the change.

A conditional suspended sentence must contain a condition that the offender do one of the following things:

  • Take part in a program to help them address their offending;
  • Submit to monitoring and regular counselling for the purpose of rehabilitation or ensuring compliance with directions.
  • Be subject to a curfew when there is a high risk of offending.

Breaches and amendments of CSIs

When a conditionally suspended sentence is breached, either by the commission of a further offence or by failing to comply with a CSI requirement, courts may either order the offender to serve all or part of the suspended term of imprisonment, substitute another suspension period or make an order that the offender is to pay a fine.

An application may be made for the amendment or cancellation of a CSI requirement by the offender, or a Community Corrections Officer. The court may amend or cancel the CSI requirement if it is satisfied that the offender’s circumstances have changed or were wrongly presented to the court at the time of sentencing.

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

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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