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Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, commonly referred as ‘a section 10’, allows a Court to discharge you without recording a conviction when you are found guilty of an offence.

Section 10 provides a useful safety valve for ensuring that justice can be served in circumstances where, despite a breach of the law, there are such extenuating circumstances or the matter is so trivial that punishment does not seem appropriate.

Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 enables a court, upon a plea or finding of guilt, to order the dismissal of charges without proceeding to record a conviction. The order can be made with or without conditions.

A good behaviour bond ordered under s 10(1)(b) is limited to a maximum period of 2 years, whereas a good behaviour bond imposed under s 9 may extend to a maximum period of 5 years: s 9(2). A conviction is recorded against an offender under s 9 but it is not under s 10(1)(b).

As a “general proposition” the fact that a conviction is recorded is a matter of special significance. However, the fact that a conviction is not recorded should not dilute or downgrade the significance of the imposition of a section 10 bond.

There are onerous consequences if an offender fails to comply with a s 10(1) bond and it should not be assumed that because the court has decided not to record a conviction that the sentence is automatically inadequate or lenient.

When is a section 10 order made?

In order to make a section 10 order, the Court must come to the conclusion that there are exceptional circumstances that should be taken into account.

The Court is to have regard to the following factors:

  • The person’s character, antecedents, age, health and mental condition
  • The trivial nature of the offence
  • The extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed
  • Any other matter than the court thinks proper to consider

The scope for the operation of section 10 decreases in cases where the offence is objectively serious and where general deterrence and denunciation are important sentencing factors.

Magistrates are generally cautious with the use of section 10 orders since excessive or inappropriate use could undermine the confidence in the administration of justice.

For more information, please refer to the NSW Judicial Commission’s ‘Section 10’ section.


A section 10 order can be made with or without conditions:

  • An order directing that all the relevant charge be dismissed (outright dismissal)
  • An order discharging the person on condition that the person enter into a good behavior bond a for a term not exceeding 2 years (conditional dismissal)
  • An order discharging the person on condition that the person enter into an agreement to participate in an intervention program and to comply with any intervention plan arising out of the program (conditional dismissal)


An order discharging a person, on condition that he or she enters a good behaviours bond, may be made only if the Court is satisfied that:

  • It is inexpedient to inflict any punishment (other than nominal punishment) on the person, or
  • It is expedient to release the person on a good behaviours bond


An intervention program includes programs which:

  • Promote the treatment or rehabilitation of offenders or accused persons
  • Promote respect for the law and the maintenance of a just and safe community
  • Encourage and facilitate the provision by offenders of appropriate forms of remedial actions to victims and the community
  • Promote the reintegration of offenders in the community

At the moment the following programs are considered to be ‘intervention programs’: the circle sentencing intervention program, the forum sentencing program and the traffic offender intervention program.

If an offender fails to enter into an agreement to participate in an intervention program in accordance with an intervention program order, the Court that made the order may sentence or convict and sentence the offender as if the order had not been made.

For more information, please refer to the NSW Attorney General’s ‘Good behaviour bonds and Non-conviction orders’ report.


Please note that according to the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 (NSW), section 10 does not apply to a person who is charged with a certain class of traffic offence, if he/she has received a section 10 order for any such offence at the time of or in the five years immediately before the Court’s determination of the present charge.

The relevant offences are those which relate to:

  • Negligent, furious or reckless driving
  • Driving or attempted use of a vehicle while intoxicated
  • Refusal or failure to submit ti testing or sampling for alcohol or certain drugs in certain circumstances
  • Wilfully altering the alcohol concentration or the amount of drugs present in the person’s blood, oral fluid or urine following request for testing, analysis or sampling
  • Driving in a manner that menaces another person, either with the intention of menacing that person or where the driver ought to have known that such person might be menaced
  • Failure to stop and assist after impact occasioning death, grievous bodily harm or injury to another person
  • Severe risks breaches of a mass, dimension or load restraint requirement by use of a heavy vehicle and/or a combination that includes a heavy vehicle; and
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of any such offence.

Call the experienced team at GMH Legal to assist you in your matter. A free consultation with GMH Legal is an opportunity to gain deep insights into your legal situation and all of your options.

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  • Over 60 years of combined legal experience
  • Outstanding track record with a winning approach
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