What is a Conditional Release Order?

Local Court Lawyer Nsw

Conditional release orders (CROs) are a type of sentencing. They were introduced in 2018, to replace good behaviour bonds. When a person has been found guilty of a crime in New South Wales (either at a hearing or my entering a plea of guilty), a Judge or Magistrate can impose a CRO with a criminal conviction, or a CRO without a criminal conviction. The latter means that the offender will not have a criminal record if they complete the period of the CRO (or good behaviour bond).

CRO without a criminal conviction

A Judge or Magistrate will examine all elements of the offender and offending behaviour, to determine whether or not to convict a defendant, and also whether or not a CRO would meet the aims of sentencing.  The court will look at things like (and this list is not exhaustive, but things like):

  • Has no previous criminal conviction.
  • The offending is not that objectively serious.
  • Whether a CRO assists in protecting the community from the offender committing further offences.
  • Is the defendant a person of good character – which can be supported by providing the court with character references.
  • Whether the defendant has a criminal history – in situations where the defendant has committed the same (or similar) offence in the recent past, non-conviction is unlikely to meet the aims of sentencing.
  • The context in which the offending happened.
  • Whether the defendant has taken steps or made attempts, since the offending but prior to court, to rehabilitate or rectify the situation, or get assistance (if, for example, there were drugs or alcohol involved at the time of offending).

CROs are one of the most lenient penalties available, meaning that they tend to be used for offences that are not objectively very serious, for example, some traffic offences.

Conditions applied to a CRO

CROs come with standard conditions including:

  • The offender must not commit any other offence.
  • The offender must attend court if required at any time during the term of the CRO.

The Judge or Magistrate has the power to impose additional conditions which may include (there are others….) such stipulations as:

  • The offender must not visit specific people or places;.
  • The offender must attend rehabilitation;
  • The offender must refrain from consuming drugs and / or alcohol (or both).
  • The offender must partake in a rehabilitation or treatment program for any identified issues such as addiction, anger or mental health.
  • And others…..

If a Community Corrections Officer or an offender wants to change the conditions applied to the CRO, this can be done via an application to the court. The Judge or Magistrate can refuse the application or may agree to the changes if they are sensible and justified.

Breaching a CRO

If a person is placed on a CRO, and during the term of that CRO breaches it, they can be re-sentenced for this offence, plus get a new sentence for any fresh offences.  I’ll give you an example: if a person, with no criminal history, pleads guilty to being in possession of drugs (a couple of joints of cannabis), and the Magistrate decides to no convict them but place them on a CRO for 12 months.  If, during the 12 months, the same person is caught drink-driving, then they are in breach of the CRO.  The result is that a Magistrate may call-up the CRO and re-sentence the person for possess drugs and drink-driving, meaning a conviction is almost inevitable for both offences.

Additional information – Conditional Release Orders

The application of CROs is outlined in Section 9 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. It states that CROs.

  • Must not be made by the Local Court in the offender’s absence.
  • Cannot be imposed together with a fine for the same offence.
  • Cannot exceed a maximum period of 2 years.
  • Can only be applied to a domestic violence / family violence offender if the order includes a condition for supervision and the court has seriously considered the safety of the victim/s.

If you need assistance with this, contact our office.



This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us.

We service NSW, but specifically the area from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay, Ballina, Mullumbimby and Tweed Heads regions on the Far North NSW Coast.

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