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Avoiding A Conviction

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Avoiding a conviction

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record following a plea of guilty, or a finding of guilt.

If you are convicted of an offence in New South Wales, you may be required to disclose that conviction for a period of at least 10 years. In some cases, convictions are required to be disclosed forever. This can have impacts on things such as employment, immigration and working with children’s checks.

What is a non-conviction order

Non conviction orders can be found in section 9(1)(b) and section 10(1)(a) Crimes Sentencing Procedure Act 1999. Non-conviction orders are a sentencing option for a Magistrate or Judge when you are found guilty of a criminal offence, or you plead guilty to a criminal offence.

Non conviction orders can be given unconditionally, or with a bond. Until 2018, non-conviction orders were commonly referred to as a ‘section 10’. These have now been replaced with Condition Release Orders.

Some of the factors the court considers re non conviction orders

  • The persons character, antecedents, age, health and mental condition
  • The trivial nature of the offence
  • The extenuating circumstances in which the offence took place

Other things the court will consider re non convictions orders

The sentencing exercise is a complicated balancing act involving weighing your circumstances against things such as public safety, general deterrence, specific deterrence etc.

Often, it can be crucial for you to gather character references and for traffic matters, complete a traffic offenders program before the court sentences your matter.

Things that might prevent the court from dealing with you by way of non-conviction order

  • Section 203 of the Road Transport Act also says that a person cannot be dealt with by way of non-conviction order if they have already received a non-conviction order for similar traffic matters at any time within the past five years.
  • If the offence is so prevalent and the need for general deterrence is greater than any other factor
  • If the offence is so serious it would not be appropriate to deal with it by way of non-conviction order

Is paying a penalty notice a conviction?

Police do keep records of criminal infringement notices however there is no finding of guilty or the recording of a conviction. If you’re issued with a criminal infringement notice rather than a court attendance notice, you will be avoiding a criminal conviction. Read more about penalty notices and criminal infringement notices here.

The chances of having your matter dismissed without conviction will always be in increased if your plea is well prepared and presented by an experienced lawyer.