If you are found to be guilty of any criminal or traffic offence, a court generally imposes a penalty on you and you will consequently have a criminal record if the court records a conviction. This criminal record can have a negative impact on your employment and travel overseas as you are frequently obliged to disclose your convictions to many entities.
However, criminal courts in NSW have a discretion to dismiss a charge without recording a conviction under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
What is a ‘Section 10’ Order?
A ‘Section 10’ order refers to a court order made under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. These orders allow a Court to find you guilty of an offence, but to still discharge you without recording a conviction. This means there is no criminal record, loss of driver’s license or other penalty.
Types of Section 10 Orders
Under s 10, the court can make three types of orders as follow:
- Outright Dismissal
This involves the court completely dismissing the offence without any conditions imposed
- Dismissal with a good behavior bond
Although the court can dismiss your charge, a good behavior bond for a maximum of 2 years may be imposed on you. If you breach any of the conditions of the bond, the court can impose a different sentence because the original matter will return to Court for re-sentencing upon your breach.
- Dismissal with an intervention program
The Court can discharge you on condition that you finish an intervention/rehabilitation program and comply with plans arising from it, like the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program.
How can I get a Section 10 Order?
Courts do not readily grant section 10 orders, and require a lot of convincing before granting them. Courts consider the following issues when evaluating whether to grant these orders:
- Criminal history;
- Health and mental condition;
- The nature of the offence i.e. how trivial/serious it is;
- Any extenuating circumstances surrounding the offence; and
- Anything else the Magistrate/Judge deems relevant.
The main benefit of section 10 is that no conviction will be on your criminal record. Despite this benefit, Section 10 orders are not easy to obtain, and it is possible that you might need to comply with additional restrictions like the good behavior bond even if you get a s 10 order. However, s 10 orders still remain useful since it gives you a chance of keeping your criminal and traffic records clean. Therefore, it is imperative for you to hire an experienced lawyer in order to convince the court to grant a Section 10 order.