Following a finding of guilt for a criminal offence, a Court is required to consider what the appropriate sentence (penalty) will be imposed upon the guilty offender.
Sentencing orders in Victoria are made under the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)(the Act).
The concept of punishment for a guilty offender to be served by imprisonment, or payment of a fine are well understood in the broader community. Other sentencing measures less so.
In Victoria there are several sentencing outcomes that can be imposed upon an offender following a finding of guilt. On a simple ladder from least serious to most serious, the range of most frequently ordered sentencing outcomes for adult offenders in the Magistrates' Court include:
Unconditional discharge with conviction (Section 73)
Release on adjournment without conviction (Section 75)
Release on adjournment with conviction (Section 72)
Unconditional dismissal (Section 76)
Fine (with or without conviction - Section 49)
Community Correction Order (Section 37)
Imprisonment (Division 2)
Refer to Section 7 of the Act for the full suite of sentencing options available.
What is involved in a Community Correction Order?
A Community Correction Order (CCO) is a mid-tier sentencing outcome which can be made with or without conviction.
Sometimes a CCO will be ordered to satisfy a sentencing purpose which is targeted at addressing punishment and deterrence, in other cases the emphasis may be directed towards rehabilitation of the offender, or a combination of both punishment and rehabilitation.
A CCO requires an Offender to comply with certain conditions (Section 47 of the Act) imposed under the Order. Some are punitive, some rehabilitative.
Unpaid work condition - Section 48C of the Act
Under Section 48C of the Act, a Court may require an offender to perform community work over a set number of hours. Section 48C(5) provides that the total number of hours of unpaid community work that the offender must perform in any 7 day period must not exceed 20.
A maximum of 300 hours of unpaid community work may be ordered under Section 48, where the sole condition imposed on the CCO is unpaid community work.
A CCO is a flexible sentencing outcome as it enables a sentencing Magistrate or Judge to provide measures that foster rehabilitation of an offender. Such conditions include:
Section 48D, allows the Court to impose a treatment and rehabilitation condition
Under Section 48D, the treatment and rehabilitation conditions that may the subject of an order include:
- drug treatment and counselling.
- alcohol treatment and counselling.
- mental health treatment and counselling
- any program that addresses factors related to the offending behaviour (sex offender programs)
Other conditions available under a CCO
- Supervision condition (requires an offender to attend regular appointments with her or his case manager at their nominated Community Correction Office)
- Nonassociation condition (not to associated with certain persons, typically but not limited to co-offenders)
- Residence or exclusion condition (where offending features family violence, a residence may b)
- Place or area exclusion (licensed premises may be excluded where the offending featured alcohol abuse)
- Curfew (requiring an offender to be at their home and not to leave their home within a specified period)
- Bond condition (requires an offender to provide a financial payment to be forfeited should if the CCO is breached)
How long can a CCO last?
Under section 38 of the Act the period of the CCO depends upon whether it is order by a Magistrate or Judge, and the number of offences that apply to the CCO.
Where an offender is sentenced for a single offence and the case is heard in the Magistrates' Court the maximum period is 2 years; 4 years for 2 offences and 5 years for 3 or more offences.
Where an CCO is ordered by a Judge (County or Supreme Court), the maximum period is 5 years.
What are the penalties for breaching a CCO?
A Community Correction Order may be breached because of further offending during the period of the CCO or non-compliance with the conditions installed under the Order.
Under Section 83AD the penalty for breaching a CCO is a maximum of 3 months imprisonment. However, this is in addition to the powers set out under section 83AS, which include the power to sentence the offender for the original offences.
It is important to note that the Court is required under section 83AS to have regard to the extent to which an offender did comply with the CCO before deciding which power to exercise under Section 83AS.
Get advice if charged with breaching a CCO
It is important to get legal advice upon receiving a charge of Contravention of CCO. The power exercised by the Court in respect to the alleged breach will vary greatly depending upon the circumstances of the breach and the extent to which an offender had otherwise complied with the order. If you are facing a charge of Community Correction Order, call our office for advice on (03) 9668 7600 or contact us via email.
Other Useful Links:
Judicial College of Victoria. Refer to Victorian Sentencing Manual.