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Some possible penalties

If you are found guilty, the magistrate will give you one of the following penalties:

  1. Penalty without conviction

    Usually the magistrate will only give a penalty without conviction if it is your first offence or your employment prospects will be affected by a conviction.

    A penalty without conviction is when you receive a penalty such as community service or a good behaviour bond or fine, but your conviction is not recorded on your criminal record.

  2. Good behaviour bond

    The magistrate can order you be placed on a good behaviour bond for a period of time.

    A good behaviour bond is a written promise you make to stay out of trouble for a period of time. If you get into trouble during that time, you will have to pay money to the court.

  3. Fine

    The magistrate can order you to pay a fine by a certain date. The magistrate might say, for example, "$200 in default 20 days jail. Three months to pay."

    This means you have three months to pay $200. You can pay the court directly or contact the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER).

    If you refuse to pay the fine, the following enforcement actions can apply:

    • your driver licence could be suspended
    • your employer may have to deduct a certain amount from your wage each month
    • your bank may be ordered to transfer money from your account to SPER
    • your property, such as your house or car, could be seized and sold
    • a warrant could be issued for your arrest and imprisonment.

    If you are unable to pay the full amount of the fine when you leave court, the court and SPER will offer you three options:

    1. Apply for an instalment plan that gives you time to pay your fine by making regular, smaller payments. You can arrange to make your payments by bank direct debit, credit card direct debit, cash or cheque.
    2. Apply for Centrepay, which allows you to pay your fine in instalments through a direct debit from your Centrelink payment.
    3. If you can’t pay the fine, you may be eligible for a fine option order, which allows you to do community service instead of paying your fine.
  4. Restitution

    Restitution (sometimes called compensation) is money you have to pay to a victim for damage you caused.

    If you don't pay the money on time:

    • the victim can sue you for the money
    • you may have to go to prison for a set number of days.

    You cannot get a fine option order (community service) instead of paying restitution.

  5. Community service

    Community service is work the court orders you to do under the direction of a community corrections officer. You do not get paid for the work.

    Before giving you community service, the magistrate will ask if you are willing to do community service work. The magistrate will also ask the community corrections officer if they are willing to accept you into a community service program.

    The community corrections officer may not accept you if you are on a disability pension or on Workcover.

    The magistrate will tell you how many hours of community service you need to do.

    You will have to report to the community corrections officer named in your community corrections order by a certain date. They will work out when and where you will do the work.

    If you do not complete the number of work hours ordered by the magistrate, you can be charged with breach of community service. This means you will have to go back to court and could be resentenced on the original charge.

    If you get a job and you can’t finish the community service, you must apply to the court to have the order changed.

  6. Probation

    If you get probation you have to stay out of trouble for a set period of time. You will have to report to a probation officer at a community corrections office usually within 48 hours of sentencing, and from then on at regular times.

    You will also have to meet any other conditions on your probation order, like going to counselling and paying restitution.

    You can be charged with breach of probation if you do not attend regularly and complete the conditions of probation. This means you will have to go back to court and could be resentenced on the original charge.

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