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Breach of Community Correction Order

- section 83AD of the Sentencing Act 1991

Breach of Community Correction Order is generally a charge made by Corrections Victoria against a person who fails to follow the terms of a Community Correction Order that they are already on.
Breach of Community Correction Order is heard in the Court that made the Order.
Examples of Breach of Community Correction Order
  • A Community Correction order states that an offender must attend counselling. The offender makes no effort to do so.
  • A person on a Community Correction Order steals an iPhone.
  • Someone consistently fails to meet with their supervisor while on a Community Correction Order.
Our client had already breached a Community Correction Order, and head been warned that if he breached again he would be sent to jail. He failed to comply with any of the conditions of the order, which included supervision, drug testing and counselling, and offending behaviour programs. The Magistrate agreed with our lawyer that a term of imprisonment would hinder our client’s attempts to get his life on track and so did not give him a gaol term.
What is the legal definition of Breach of Community Correction Order?
The legal definition of Breach of Community Correction Order is not following any of the terms of a legally imposed Community Correction Order.

The section that covers this offence is section 83AD of the Sentencing Act 1991.

Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt to establish that a person is guilty of Breach Community Corrections Order:

  1. The accused was subject to a Community Corrections Order;
  2. The accused contravened the order; and
  3. The accused had no reasonable excuse for contravening the order.
Element 1: The accused was subject to a Community Correction Order
The prosecution must first prove that the accused was subject to a Community Corrections Order (CCO).

A CCO is a sentence available to the courts. Subject to any specific provision relating to an offence, a court may order an offender to complete a CCO if the offender is found guilty to an offence punishable by more than 5 penalty units, the court has received a pre-sentence report (if required) and the offender consents to the order.1

The purpose of a CCO is to provide a community-based sentence available for a wide range of offending behaviour.2 All CCOs contain standard conditions relating to not committing further offences punishable by imprisonment, reporting and general compliance.3 CCOs may also contain specific conditions tailored to individual offenders which offenders must abide for the duration of the order or complete before the order expires, such as unpaid community work or mandatory rehabilitation.4

CCO’s last for an amount of time fixed by the court. In cases where the order is made by the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum duration of a CCO is:

  • For one offence, 2 years;5
  • For two offences, 4 years;6
  • For three or more offences, 5 years.7
Where a CCO is made by the County Court or the Supreme Court in respect to one or more offence, the maximum duration of a CCO is 5 years.8

A CCO must commence no later than three months after the court makes the order,9 unless an offender is sentenced to a CCO in combination with a term of imprisonment. In these cases, the CCO will commence upon their release from custody.10

Element 2: The accused has contravened the order
The prosecution must then prove that the accused contravened the order.

An accused will contravene their CCO if they breach their CCO conditions. For example, if a condition of an accused’s CCO is that they complete 150 hours of unpaid community work and at the expiration of their order they have only completed 50 hours of unpaid community work, they will have breached their order.

Another common way offenders breach CCOs is by committing further offences punishable by a term of imprisonment.

Element 3: The accused does not have a reasonable excuse
The final element the prosecution must prove is that the accused does not have a reasonable excuse for contravening their order.

An example of a reasonable excuse for contravening a CCO is a medical condition that has arisen during the order. An accused may for example suffer a debilitating back injury preventing them from engaging in community work, making it impossible for them to complete their mandatory unpaid community work hours before the order expires.

In these circumstances, the accused must provide their Corrections worker some evidence to substantiate the excuse, such as a doctor’s letter specifying that they cannot undertake community work.

“Do you have a reasonable excuse for contravening your CCO?”

[1] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 37
[2] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 36
[3] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 45
[4] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) ss 48C, 48D
[5] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 38(a)(i)
[6] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 38(a)(ii)
[7] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 38(a)(iii)
[8] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 38(b)
[9] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 38(2)
[10] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 44(3)

  • A person honestly and reasonably thought they didn’t breach the Order.
  • Someone had a sudden or extraordinary emergency that forced them to breach the Order.
  • Another person was responsible for the supposed breach.
There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was there a sudden and extraordinary emergency that led to the breach?
  • Was there a case of mistaken identity?
  • Was there an honest and reasonable belief that the Community Correction Order was followed?
“Is there some misunderstanding with Corrections?”

The maximum penalty for Breach of Community Correction Order is 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 30 penalty units ($4,663.80).
What can you be sentenced to for this charge?
Less serious breaches may result in a fine. More serious breaches can mean a term of imprisonment. As with most charges it depends on the Court you are in and the actual facts of the matter.