Non-custodial sentences

When someone is convicted in court, the judge can give them a non-custodial sentence. This is a alternative to a prison sentence. They could get a fine or need to do community service. Sometimes they will be supervised by a probation officer for a certain time.

Types of non-custodial sentence

There are different non-custodial sentences that a court might give to adult offenders, including:

  • fine
  • probation order
  • community service order
  • a combination of probation and community service orders
  • conditional or absolute discharge

Non-custodial sentences for young people who offend include:

  • attendance centre order
  • community responsibility order
  • reparation order
  • youth conference order

Fines

A fine is the most common form of punishment given by the courts. The offender must pay a fixed sum of money. If they don't pay, they could get a prison sentence.

To read more, go to:

Community service orders

When an offender gets a community service order, they must do unpaid work in the community. The offender must be aged 16 years or older and consent to the order. The order must be

  • for at least 40 hours
  • no longer than 240 hours
  • completed within one year

They must work the hours as instructed. If they don't do the work, they will be returned to court, where they could receive a fine or any other sentence.

Probation orders

A probation order can be given to an offender, aged 10 years or older. They're supervised by a probation officer in the community for a certain time. Supervision lasts between six months and three years.

Sometimes the court will apply additional requirements to the probation order, including:

  • go to an alcohol or drug rehabilitation centre
  • go to a day centre
  • receive any other medical treatment or counselling

If the offender doesn't go along with any part of the order, they might be returned to court. They could get a fine or another sentence.

To read more, go to:

Combination orders

A combination order is a probation order and community service order together. The probation part of the order lasts between one and three years. Community service lasts between 40 and 100 hours, to be completed in one year.

Custody probation orders

Custody probation orders are for serious offences that deserve a custodial sentence of one year or more. The offender must be aged 17 or older and consent to the order. The order will involve time in custody followed by supervision by a probation officer in the community. Supervisison lasts between one and three years.

Enhanced combination orders

An enhanced combination order is an alternative to a prison sentence of 12 months or less. The order involves rehabilitation, reparation and restorative practice.

The offender must have contact with a probation officer to review their compliance. Supervision usually lasts between one and three years.

The offender must:

  • do unpaid work in the community
  • take part in victim-focussed work
  • have psychological assessment and any treatment
  • do intensive, offending-focussed work led by a probation officer

Conditional discharge

A conditional discharge means the defendant is absolved from punishment, if they don't commit any offences during the period said by the court. This could be up to three years.

If they're found guilty of another offence during this time, they'll be liable to be sentenced for the original offence.

Absolute discharge

An absolute discharge means that the defendant is released unconditionally without any penalty. It is suitable in cases where the defendant, though guilty of the offence, is not thought to deserve any punishment. An absolute discharge is the most lenient sentence available to the court.

Binding over

Binding over is when an offender 'binds' to good behaviour. If they break this commitment, they have to pay money to the court.

Road traffic offences

There are certain penalties only given for road traffic offences:L

  • penalty points - depending on the seriousness of the offence, a motorist may choose to have the matter dealt with by way of the Fixed Penalty Process
  • endorsements
  • disqualification from driving

To read more, go to:

Non-custodial sentences for young people who offend

The non custodial sentences for young offenders include:

  • Attendance Centre Order - the young person has to go to a designated attendance centre for between 12 and 24 hours over several months
  • Reparation Order - the young person has to make reparation to the victim or the wider community by doing an agreed activity for up to 24 hours
  • Community Responsibility Order - imposes a combination of a stated number of hours (between 20 and 40) to be spent on practical activities and instruction on citizenship
  • Youth Conference Order - gives young people who offend the opportunity to understand and make amends to their victims for the consequences of their offending and to take steps to stop future crime

To read more, go to:

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