Types of Penalties

Types of Penalties





No Conviction Recorded

Charges dismissed and thus a conviction will not be recorded.

· Inexpensive

· Good for minor offences

· Specific deterrent

· Does not rehabilitate

· May not seem suitably retributive


Formal warning used for less serious offences as a way to avoid the court system.

· Inexpensive

· Appropriate for minor offences

· May act as a specific deterrent

· Does not rehabilitate

· May not seem suitably retributive

· May not deter.


Monetary penalty imposed on an offender usually for less serious crimes.

· Inexpensive

· Appropriate for minor offences

· Flexible

· May no deter

· May disadvantage poorer offenders

· Does not rehabilitate

Suspended Sentence



In place of imprisonment on condition that the offender enters into a good behaviour bond.

The court requires a defendant to enter into a bond to be supervised.

· Inexpensive

· Can rehabilitate the offender.

· Suitable for less serious offences.

· Offender has opportunity to reoffend

· May not deter.

· Difficult to supervise conditions imposed on the offender, unless the Parole Authority is involved.

Criminal Infringement Notice

A notice that allows police to give on-the-spot fines for certain offences (such as offensive language and stealing less than $300).

· Occurs at the time of the offence

· Inexpensive

· Saves police and court time.

· May not be effective as a deterrent

· May not be suitably retributive

Community Service order

For less serious offences; involves supervised work in the community for up to 500 hours.

· Inexpensive

· Assists the general community

· Suitably retributive

· May not deter

· Offender has opportunity to reoffend

· May not rehabilitate offender

Periodic Detention

A form of imprisonment that allows the offender to serve a certain amount of time weekly.

· Less costly than imprisonment

· Allows offenders to continue with education or employment

· May not deter

· Offender has opportunity to reoffend

Home Detention

Allows the offender to serve the sentence under house arrest for a period up to 18 months.

· Appropriate for those convicted of non-violent crime.

· Decreases prison population.

· Only available in city courts

· May not rehabilitate


Most severe penalty à restricts liberty and removes offender from community.

· Incapacitates prisoners so they cannot reoffend

· A serious punishment suitable for serious crimes

· May have a negative effect on the offender’s behaviour

· Imposes hardship on the family of the offender.

· May not deter or rehabilitate.

· Very costly (costs over $50000 to keep a prisoner in jail for one year)

Diversionary Programs

Court program set up to divert offender away from traditional criminal process in the hope of rehabilitation and discouragement of recidivism.

· Can rehabilitate the offender

· Relatively inexpensive

· Offender has the opportunity to reoffend

· May not deter

Forfeiture of assets: a person can be ordered to forfeit his/her property to the government if the court finds that the property was gained with the proceeds of crime, or was used to commit crime


Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.