Guilty, with No Conviction

Yes. The NSW Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act allows criminal Courts in NSW to make a finding of guilt against someone, however not record a conviction. This means that in this situation you would be found guilty with no conviction recorded.

The Criminal Court that finds you guilty may make one of the following three Orders under Section 10 of the NSW Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act:

  1. Directing that the charge against the person be dismissed (Section 10(1)(a)).
  2. Discharging the person on the condition that that person enter into a good behaviour bond not exceeding two years (Section 10(1)(b)).
  3. Discharging the person on the condition that that person enters into an agreement to participate in an intervention program and to comply with any intervention plan arising out of the program (Section 10(1)(c)).

The 3 Orders listed above provide the Criminal Court with alternatives to recording a conviction, including the option (1) to dismiss the finding of guilt outright.

Section 10(1)(b) allows the Court to dismiss the charge and not record a conviction, provided that you enter into a bond to be of good behaviour not exceeding two years. Whilst discharging you, the conviction remains temporarily on your record for the duration of the bond. Therefore if you are seeking employment or travelling, and require no convictions to be recorded, you will require a dismissal under Section 10(1)(a).

Section 10(1)(c) allows the Court to discharge you on the condition that you enter into an intervention program. Such programs are often drug, alcohol or anger management courses that assist you in dealing with issues which contributed to the offending behaviour.

What factors will the Criminal Court consider?

In deciding whether to make an Order in Section 10, Courts in NSW have to consider the following factors:

  1. The person’s age, previous criminal record, character, health and their mental condition.
  2. The trivial nature of the offence.
  3. The extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed, and
  4. Any other matters that the Court thinks proper to consider.

What about Driving Offences?

A Section 10 dismissal is an attractive alternative to individuals charged with driving offences. In January 2011, parliament passed a bill to amend the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Act so that any matters dealt with under Section 10 do not attract demerit points.

As there is no conviction recorded under a Section 10 dismissal, the Court is not bound by the driving legislation which requires Courts in NSW to impose mandatory disqualification periods.

What if I’ve got a Criminal History?

You may obtain a Section 10 dismissal under the NSW Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act notwithstanding your previous criminal history or the seriousness of the offence. There are certain circumstances in which you will not be entitled to a Section 10 dismissal if you’ve had a dismissal for the same offence within a five year period.

If you’ve had a Section 10 dismissal in that period this will have the same effect of a conviction for the purposes of an order restoring stolen property, compensation under the Victims Compensation Act or restitution (the delivery of property).

Are there any other benefits?

Another benefit of a Section 10 dismissal is that pursuant to the Criminal Records Act 1991 you will not be legally obliged to disclose any personal information pertaining to the dismissed conviction to any employer or other person/s.

Because of the many benefits associated with a Section 10 dismissal, they are widely referred to in the community. Each matter is different and you should immediately obtain expert legal advice from an experienced Criminal Lawyer for any matter whereby you are facing the possibility of criminal prosecution.