Communities and Justice

Sentencing, orders and judgments

Courts make many different orders depending on the type of case and the laws that apply.

Criminal sentencing options that the courts can give include:

  • Custodial sentences or imprisonment
  • Non-custodial alternatives, such as orders or bonds

Civil cases can be settled in a number of ways, including through court civil judgments and enforcement orders. 

Issues taken into account in sentencing

For information on the main issues that judges and magistrates take into account when sentencing an offender, see Judge for Yourself: a guide to sentencing in Australia published by the Judicial Commission of Australia website.

Custodial sentences or imprisonment


People found guilty of serious offences may be sentenced to a period of imprisonment and held in an adult correctional centre. In the children's court, this is called a control order and the young person is held in a juvenile detention centre.

With very serious crimes the court can impose mandatory life sentences. However with most sentences of imprisonment, there is a minimum mandatory sentence.

Intensive correction order

People given an intensive correction order serve a sentence of imprisonment in the community under strict supervision. This type of sentence replaces periodic detention orders, which are no longer a sentencing option.  

Home detention

Home detention requires that an offender remains in his or her house for a certain period of time. The person may be subject to supervision and electronic monitoring.

Non-custodial alternatives

These are some alternatives to a term of imprisonment

Referral to attend education or rehabilitation

These orders may require an offender attend supervised educational or rehabilitative programs or undergo certain treatment or assessment for treatment.   

Community service order

A community service order requires an offender to perform unpaid work in the community for a number of hours set by the court. Corrective Services NSW supervises community service orders.

Good behaviour bond

The court can make an order directing an offender to agree to be of 'good behaviour' for a set period of time. This is known as a good behaviour bond.

Sometimes the person also has to comply with conditions, such as getting drug or alcohol counselling. If the person complies with the bond, there is no further penalty at the end of the period. If the bond is breached, the person can be given an alternative sentence such as imprisonment.

Driving disqualification

In driving offences, a court can impose a driving disqualification period that prevents a person from driving for a period of time.

Fines or monetary orders

A fine or monetary order is a sum of money that has to be paid. Monetary orders include court costs, witness expenses, compensation and professional costs.

Apprehended Violence Orders

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order that prohibits certain behaviour for a period of time. Orders can include not to assault, harass or intimidate a protected person; not to contact a protected person, or not to attend premises where a protected person lives or works. Breaching an apprehended violence order can result in a person being arrested and charged with an offence.

Find out more about apprehended violence order applications at LawAssist

Civil judgments and enforcement orders

Civil cases can be finalised in a number of ways. These include:

  • the parties settling the case
  • the court dismissing the case
  • the court making a judgment or  decision

To read judgments made in the various courts and tribunals see CaseLaw.

Civil enforcement orders

The court may make judgment for the payment of a sum of money. If the judgment amount is not paid, other action can be taken to recover the amount outstanding, this is called enforcement.

Some examples of enforcement orders that can be issued are:

  • a writ
  • an examination order
  • a garnishee order

New South Wales court statistics

Information and statistics regarding the conviction rates and penalties given by the New South Wales courts can be found at Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

Find out more about NSW criminal court statistics in the Annual Review of the Supreme Court of NSW.

Last updated:

03 Dec 2023

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