Community Correction Order

A community correction order (CCO) is a flexible sentencing order served in the community. The order can be imposed by itself or in addition to imprisonment or a fine.

In early 2012, the CCO replaced a number of sentencing orders, including intensive correction orders, home detention, and community-based orders. A court’s power to order a community correction order is provided in Part 3A of the Sentencing Act 1991. CCOs are not available for certain serious offences committed on or after 20 March 2017, such as murder and rape.

Guideline Judgment on CCOs

On 22 December 2014, the Victorian Court of Appeal delivered a guideline judgment on CCOs. The Director of Public Prosecutions made an application for a guideline judgment following three appeals made against CCOs imposed as sentences in individual cases. The Court of Appeal’s guideline judgment contains guidance to courts on how to use a CCO as a sentencing option and outlines the sentencing purposes that can be fulfilled by a CCO. 

Duration of CCOs

For offences committed on or after 20 March 2017, the maximum length of a CCO imposed in the higher courts for one or more offences is 5 years.

For offences committed prior to 20 March 2017, the maximum length of a CCO imposed in the higher courts is the maximum term of imprisonment for the offence, or two years (whichever is greater). For example, for the offence of theft, a CCO could be up to 10 years – the same as the maximum term of imprisonment for that offence.

In the Magistrates’ Court, a single CCO can be imposed for a maximum of two years (in relation to one offence), four years (in relation to two offences), and five years (in relation to three or more offences). A single CCO may be imposed in relation to multiple offences if these offences are founded on the same facts, or if they form, or are part of, a series of offences of the same or a similar character.

If a person is sentenced to more than one CCO in the Magistrates’ Court, the court may order the CCOs to be served cumulatively (one after the other) or concurrently (at the same time).

Where multiple CCOs are imposed for offences committed at the same time, the maximum period of the cumulative CCOs must not exceed five years.

Where multiple CCOs are imposed for offences not committed at the same time, there appears to be no maximum limit on the total period of cumulation that can be ordered in the Magistrates’ Court.

Offences That Cannot Receive a CCO

The Victorian Government has passed legislation limiting the courts’ use of non-custodial orders for two classes of serious offences described as ‘Category 1’ offences and ‘Category 2’ offences.

A court cannot impose a CCO (or another non-custodial order) for the following Category 1 offences where the offence was committed on or after 20 March 2017:

  • murder
  • causing serious injury intentionally in circumstances of gross violence
  • cause serious injury recklessly in circumstances of gross violence
  • rape
  • rape by compelling sexual penetration
  • incest (victim under the age of 18)
  • incest – de facto (victim under the age of 18)
  • sexual penetration of a child under the age of 12
  • persistent sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16
  • trafficking in a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence
  • cultivation of a large commercial quantity of a narcotic plant.

A court cannot impose a CCO for the following Category 2 offences where the offence was committed on or after 20 March 2017, unless there are special reasons for doing so (such as the accused has impaired mental functioning):

  • manslaughter
  • child homicide
  • causing serious injury intentionally
  • kidnapping
  • kidnapping (common law)
  • arson causing death
  • trafficking in a commercial quantity of a drug of dependence
  • cultivation of a commercial quantity of a narcotic plant
  • providing documents or information facilitating terrorist acts.

Terms and Conditions for CCOs

Offenders sentenced to a CCO must abide by standard (core) terms, such as:

  • not reoffending
  • not leaving Victoria without permission
  • reporting to a community corrections centre
  • complying with written directions from the Secretary of the Department of Justice.

Each CCO must also attach one additional condition. Additional conditions may be attached to a CCO for all or part of its duration and can require the offender to:

  • undertake medical treatment or other rehabilitation
  • not enter, remain within, or consume alcohol in licensed premises (such as a hotel, club, or restaurant)
  • complete unpaid community work up to a total of 600 hours
  • be supervised, monitored, and managed by a corrections worker
  • abstain from contact or association with particular people (for example, co-offenders)
  • live (or not live) at a specified address
  • stay away from nominated places or areas
  • abide by a curfew, remaining at a specified place for between two and 12 hours each day
  • be monitored and reviewed by the court to ensure compliance with the order
  • pay a bond – a sum of money that may be given up wholly or partly if the offender fails to comply with any condition imposed.

An offender who breaches a condition of a CCO may be resentenced for the original offence and may face up to three months additional imprisonment for the breach.

Intensive Compliance Period

If a court imposes a CCO of six months or more, part of that time may be set as an intensive compliance period. During this time, the offender must complete one or more of the conditions attached to the CCO.

For example, if a 12 month CCO is imposed, the first six months may be fixed as an intensive compliance period during which the offender must complete a condition (such as a treatment program).

Justice Plan

For intellectually disabled offenders, the court may also attach a justice plan as a condition of sentence. The Department of Human Services prepares justice plans, specifying treatment services aimed at reducing the chances that the offender will reoffend.

CCOs and Imprisonment

A court must not impose a custodial sentence if the purpose or purposes of the sentence could be achieved by a CCO combined with one or more of the following conditions:

  • non-association
  • residence restrictions or exclusions
  • place or area exclusions
  • curfews and/or
  • alcohol exclusions.

The Victorian Sentencing Act 1991 expressly provides that a CCO may be an appropriate sentence in cases where a wholly suspended sentence may have been imposed prior to suspended sentences being abolished.

For offences committed on or after 20 March 2017, the maximum term of imprisonment that can be combined with a CCO is one year. This restriction does not apply to serious arson offenders, in which case the court may impose a CCO in addition to any sentence of imprisonment (including a term exceeding one year).

For offences committed between September 2014 and 19 March 2017, a court may impose a CCO in addition to a sentence of imprisonment if the term of imprisonment imposed on the person is less than 2 years.

When a sentence of imprisonment and a CCO are imposed in the Magistrates’ Court in respect of 2 or more offences, the maximum total length of the combined order is 5 years. 

Where a court imposes a CCO in addition to a term of imprisonment, the CCO commences on the release of the offender from imprisonment (if no parole period has been ordered) or, if the offender is released on parole, on the completion of the parole period.

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