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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A dangerous cocktail

The introduction of Community Correction Orders may (in some cases, at least) actually increase the likelihood of a future term of imprisonment.

Particularly where there are many offences dealt with together or the offences are serious, on a guilty plea many advocates will find themselves suggesting to the bench a 'cocktail' of a CCO and suspended sentence. It's often submitted that this will offer a carrot in the form of rehabilitative programs administered by the CCS, and the stick of a suspended sentence if there is further offending. The submission offers a credible alternative to prison (now ICOs are no longer available), but it's not without its risks.

What is sometimes overlooked is that a contravention of the CCO (whether by further offending or non-compliance) is itself an offence punishable by up to 3 months imprisonment. And where any offence punishable by imprisonment is committed, a contravention of a suspended sentence imposed at the same time naturally follows.

If the contravention is prompted by non-compliance with the CCO, exceptional circumstances will often be hard to find.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was only recently brought to my attention that not only is an alleged breach of a CCO an offence in itself, it is also a seperate offence if one was to breach a suspended sentence of imprisonment or Adjourned Undertaking to be of good behaviour (see Division 1 of Part 3C of the Sentencing Act).

It will be very interesting to see in due course how the Court of Appeal deals with this apparent double punishment that will surely follow.

If I am on a Suspended Term of Imprisonment and during that term commit, and subsequently plead guilty to(or get found guilty of) a new offence punishable by imprisonment - say a shop theft - then as I see it, the followig will occur:
1. I will be (obviously) be charged with the new offence and sentenced for that offence; and
2. I will be charged with the offence of Breaching a suspended sentence, and sentenced for that offence; and
3. I will be dealt with for the original suspended sentence and breach, and failing the demonstration of exceptional circumstances, be sent to the can.

As I see it, 1 & 2 above are inherrently linked and involve and overlap in punishment for the same, single act, namely the shop theft.

Bloody outrageous if you ask me. But what do I know, I'm just a simple solicitor. Perhaps waterboarding is not too far off...