Most readers will probably live most of their lives having only a minor brush with the law, and will probably never have to attend a day of court in their lives. However, if something unfortunate does indeed happen where a court appearance is required, most people will hope that the magistrate will be lenient, and in the best case scenario, have no conviction recorded. Alternatively, if there is a conviction, the next best thing is not going to jail, and receiving a good behaviour bond.
How is a good behaviour bond imposed?
When a magistrate decides to impose a good behaviour bond, there are some general considerations that need to be made on whether or not a conviction will be recorded. Using s 8 of Victoria’s Sentencing Act as an example, a magistrate may take into account:
- the severity of the offence
- the character and history of the person
- any impact a conviction will have on a person’s economic and social well being, along with their future employment prospects.
New South Wales in s 10 and s 10A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act has similar provisions, which also considers any extenuating circumstances in the committing of the offence. The non-recording of a conviction does not dismiss any conditions imposed by the court, which still may decide to fine an individual, or require they pay compensation or restitution to a victim of the crime.
Young and first time offenders generally receive the benefit of a good behaviour bond, which is encapsulated in s 83A of Victoria’s Sentencing Act allowing a magistrate to defer a sentence for six months for an individual who is found guilty of an offence, and who is under the age of 25.
What happens if a bond is breached?
When a good behaviour bond is breached, the prosecution must prove both the original conviction, as well as the additional breach of the bond. A decision to take no action may be taken by the court, or an order requiring a person to perform community service, or participate in a drug rehabilitation program may also be options that a court pursues.
It should be noted that a magistrate can revoke a good behaviour bond and send a person to a term of imprisonment.
For anyone who finds themselves in front of a magistrate who imposes a good behaviour bond when jail could be an alternative, count yourself lucky. For anyone else who is in trouble with the law, seek legal assistance immediately.