Good Behaviour Bond & Character

How Will A Good Behaviour Bond Affect Visa Application or Visa Holders?

A good behaviour bond is a non-custodial sentencing option and is generally only used for minor criminal offences. It is an order from a magistrate that a person be of ‘good behaviour’ for a specified amount of time, with or without other conditions. The bonds allow an offender to be released into the community rather than serve time in jail. The conditions of the bond must be accepted by the defendant, who signs the bond as a promise to comply with it.

Good behaviour bonds in New South Wales are generally governed by the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. For some offences, a fine can be imposed in addition to the bond for a single offence. However, a community service order cannot be imposed with a bond for the same offence. The conditions of a bond must be very clear and they must not be unreasonable or unnecessarily hard to comply with. Departmental policy states that generally a person will not be considered against the Character test if they are only subject to a good behaviour bond and they have no other criminal record. It would not be until a person breached their good behaviour bond that a breach may lead to a sentence (term of imprisonment) that would then fall within the scope of Character test. However, a good behaviour bond may be relevant to the assessment of past and present general and criminal conduct.

Suspended Sentence & Good Behaviour Bond

A person who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment that is suspended (wholly or partly) has for the purposes of the Character test been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. A suspended sentence is a sentence of imprisonment which will take effect only if a specified event occurs, that is, another conviction. Suspended sentences are to be considered for the purposes of the character test. For example, if a person has been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment or more, and that sentence is suspended, the person nonetheless has a substantial criminal record does not pass the Character test.

An offender may be ordered to enter into a Good Behaviour Bond under under Division 3 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 but is convicted, for example, section 9 of the Act, and the term of non-custodial conviction exceeds 12 months. In this case, the offender does not meet character test, and therefore would be refused or cancelled.

An Error

However, formerly section 12 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, prohibits the term of the Good Behaviour Bond to exceed the term of the sentence. There is a good amount of visa refused on Character which are affected by this error. For example, an applicant was sentenced to 11 months imprisonment, fully suspended on the basis of a 2-year Good Behaviour Bond. In response to this error, section 12 has since been repealed.

However, for the purpose of character assessment, this error continues to frustrate a qualitative assessment in the exercise of a department case officer’s discretion to refuse a visa on Character grounds.