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Suspended Sentence (WA)

In some cases, when sentencing a person for a criminal offence, a court may be of the view that the only appropriate sentence is a term of imprisonment. However, in Western Australia, a court may order that that the term be suspended for a period of time. This article deals with suspended sentences in WA.

What is a Suspended Sentence?

A suspended imprisonment order (SIO) is a sentence of imprisonment where the offender does not have to go to prison but is permitted to remain in the community. In other words, 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).

When Can A Suspended Sentence Be Imposed?

Section 76 of the Sentencing Act 1995 (the 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.

A suspended sentence of imprisonment may not be imposed if:

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

Breach of a suspended sentence

If the offender commits another criminal offence that is punishable by imprisonment during the suspension period of their suspended sentence, they will generally be ordered to serve the term or part of the term that was suspended in prison.

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:

  1. order them to serve the term suspended;
  2. order them to serve part of the term suspended
  3. substitute another suspension period for the period originally imposed;
  4. fine the offender an amount of up to $6,000.

The court must order the offender to serve the term suspended (as per 1) 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 (or oral reasons that may be transcribed).

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.

Conditional Suspended Imprisonment Order (CSI)

Should the offender have residual treatment needs that need addressing the court may choose to conditionally suspend the term of imprisonment.

Should the court impose a CSIO, the following standard obligations will be imposed:

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

In addition to above, a CSIO must contain at least one of the following primary conditions:

  1. A programme requirement to assist the offender address their offending;
  2. A supervision requirement which is undertaken by Community Corrections to ensure the offender is regularly monitored in the community; and

A curfew requirement when there is a high risk of offending.

Breaches of an CSIO

The same penalties apply for breaching a CSIO as above.

Amending a CSIO

An application may be made for the amendment or cancellation of a CSIO requirement by the offender, or a Community Corrections Officer. The court may amend or cancel the CSIO 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.

Courtney Ashton - Associate - Perth

This article was written by Courtney Ashton - Associate - Perth

Courtney holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Criminology and Justice from Edith Cowan University and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the College of Law. Courtney is a dedicated practitioner who enjoys a challenge and has competently completed many traffic and summary jurisdiction matters. Courtney enjoys advocacy and has appeared in a number of drink driving,...

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