New sentencing laws in NSW – Part 5 of 5
On 24 September 2018, significant changes were introduced to sentencing laws in New South Wales. In Part 5 of our 5-part blog we look at Sentencing Assessment Reports – what they are and how to prepare for them.
What are the changes?
Previously, the court could order a pre-sentence report, a community assessment report, an ICO assessment report or a home detention assessment report. Under the new reforms, there is one ‘catch-all’ report called a Sentencing Assessment Report’
What is a Sentencing Assessment Report?
A Sentencing Assessment Report assists a sentencing court to determine the appropriate sentence options and conditions to impose on an offender. The report assesses your suitability for the following:
- Supervision by Community Corrections
- Community service work
- Home detention.
The report will consider:
- Your risk of re-offending
- Whether imposing certain conditions would cause any risks to yourself and others
- What condition(s) would assist in addressing and managing any risks.
When will a Sentencing Assessment Report be requested?
A Sentencing Assessment Report must generally be obtained before the court can impose the following conditions:
- Community service condition
- Home detention condition
How to prepare for a Sentencing Assessment Report
Once the court has requested a Sentencing Assessment Report, your sentence will be adjourned for 6 weeks for the report to be prepared by Community Corrections. The following then occurs:
Step 1: The court sends Community Corrections a copy of the police facts and your criminal record
Step 2: You will be directed to report to your closest Community Corrections office. You must comply with this direction. At this initial attendance, your details will be recorded and you will then be contacted by a Community Corrections officer for a follow up appointment. You must co-operate fully with the Community Corrections officer
Step 3: At your follow up appointment(s), you will be interviewed by the Community Corrections officer. Be ready to answer questions about your remorse and insight into the offence(s) you have committed. The questions you are asked are designed to allow the Community Corrections officer to address the following matters in your report:
- Background (e.g. family and social circumstances)
- Education and employment
- History of antisocial behaviour
- Attitudes toward the offence
- Substance abuse
- Financial circumstances
- Mental health
- Willingness and ability to undertake any intervention/rehabilitation program
- Response to supervision.
Community Corrections will likely also contact third parties, as identified by you, to verify information you give – for example family members, employers, doctors and treatment providers.
Step 4: The Community Correction officer then sends a copy of the Sentencing Assessment Report to the court. The sentencing magistrate then considers the matters raised in the report when determining the appropriate sentence to impose.
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Disclaimer: The above information contains a basic summary of the law in NSW as at 27 September 2018. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer.