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Severity of criminal penalties depends on the gravity and seriousness of the offence committed

In New South Wales, severity of criminal penalties depends on the gravity and seriousness of the offence committed. The penalties imposed by the Courts on criminal offenders are:  monetary penalties and charges, imprisonment, periodic and home detention, as well as good behavior probations and community service.

In the determination of the sentence to be imposed, reference to State and Commonwealth Acts are done by the Court. This is why, on similar offences or the same offences, decisions vary on each state.


Unlawful acts against persons are deemed the most serious crimes. Murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and kidnapping are some of these. They are punishable with severe penalties imposed on conviction often with imprisonment.

There are also lesser crimes which are also punished under NSW laws. These are the domestic violence, identity theft, fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and others. The penalties imposed on these crimes are less severe compared with serious crimes.

Monetary Penalties

Although fines as penalty are common for certain offences within a given state, monetary penalties are seldom imposed except in white collar offences involving money. Crimes wherein monetary penalty are imposed are exemplified by theft, malicious damage, and common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, affray, and police resistance, among others.

In the imposition of fines, units are used wherein one unit is equivalent to $110. The maximum amount of fines imposed depends on what type of crime was committed as provided by crime laws. The court may also consider one’s financial capacity in ordering fines. The time for paying the fine is also imposed by the court.


Federal courts have the power to order restitution instead of or in addition to another type of sentence. A defendant for example may be ordered to pay the victim for the injury sustained because of an unlawful act (20AB (4)(b) Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth). The court imposing the monetary penalty may also require the convicted offender to pay or reimburse the other party for any expenses incurred.

There are also lesser crimes wherein certain government agencies are the offended party and may levy other charges against the offender.

Good Behavior

A good behaviour bond is an order of the court that requires a person to be of good behaviour for a predetermined length of time. The court will impose conditions he or she will have to observe during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of this bond is 5 years. The court is empowered to impose both a fine and a bond.

Home Detention

Home detention is ordered instead of imprisonment. A person receiving a sentence of home detention serves the sentence at his residence rather than in jail. A person in home detention is strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Home detention orders served on a maximum period of 18 months.

Community Service

A court may impose community service orders (CSO) upon a person to attend a development program or render unpaid work in an establishment or place specified by the Probation officer. The maximum number of hours of community service that a court can impose is:

  • 100 hours: where the maximum term of imprisonment that can be set by the court does not exceed six months.
  • 200 hours: where the maximum term of imprisonment that can be set by the court does not exceed 1 year.
  • 500 hours: where the maximum term of imprisonment that can be set by the court exceeds 1 year.

Community service work is limited to five hours in any day.

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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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