This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice. The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article. It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem.
Probation is a sentencing option that the court has which is used as an alternative to, or in conjunction with a jail sentence. Probation is typically used when the Defendant has a particular need for supervision or ongoing support and guidance in the community (for example a drug addiction). A period of probation can be ordered anywhere between 6 months and 3 years.
The court will impose a period of probation typically when an element of supervision is required for the defendant.
What the Court Takes into Consideration at a Probation Sentence
There are essentially four basic principles that the court must consider when imposing a sentence on a defendant;
- Punishment (the court must impose a sentence that punishes the defendant);
- Sending a message to the community. The court is used as a medium that criminal offending will receive punishment. Journalists usually sit in the back of courts and record the names of parties, the nature of the charge, and the penalty that is received.
- Rehabilitation. The court must impose a sentence that allows for a defendant to be rehabilitated. This is usually done through a supervised order such as probation.
- Deterrence. There are two types of deterrents; specific deterrence to stop you from offending again, and general deterrence to stop other people from committing the offence.
In determining the punishment that they will deliver to a defendant, the court will consider a number of factors including:
- Seriousness of the crime
- The effect on the victim
- The offender’s personal circumstances
- The offender’s criminal history
- Whether the offender has cooperated with the police
So now let’s look at the top punishments that the court can impose. Please note that they can do some of these types of punishments separately, or they can do a combination of punishments.
What Probation Entails
Probation is intensive supervision by the probation and parole office and will require constant contact with the allocated supervising officer. A person on probation must report to the nearest probation and parole office usually within 48 hours of the time of sentence. It is recommended that you go and report to that office immediately after court. If you are on probation, you must accept and receive visits from an authorised probation and parole officer.
You must not leave the state of Queensland without their permission and you must notify them immediately of any change of address. You may have to do certain courses that the probation officer directs you to do. You may have to provide breath tests while you write tests if the order states that you are required to do so. You must not commit another offence whilst on probation. You must comply with every reasonable direction given by the authorised corrective services officer.
If you breach probation in any way then it is likely that you will be summonsed to go back to court. In that event, your probation order could be revoked and you could be resentenced in relation to the original offences (this could include a harsher sentence).
There are a wide range of programs that people on probation may be required to do. These programs include (Source: Legal Aid Queensland Duty Lawyer Handbook);
Turning Point -
preparatory program: which helps people prepare to change their offending behaviour. This program helps people weighing up the pros and cons of changing their behaviour and helps them become more confident about their ability to make positive changes in their lives.
Getting SMART -
a moderate intensity substance abuse program which teaches people to use cognitive behavioural therapy principles, theories, tools and techniques to abstain from any type of addictive behaviour.
Making Choices Program -
which addresses general offending behaviour and helps participants examine how they came to offend, while also helping them recognise points where different choices could be made. Different versions of this program have been developed for male and female offenders.
Cognitive Self Change Program -
high-intensity cognitive behavioural intervention specifically for high-risk adult prisoners for whom the repeated use of violence is part of a general pattern of antisocial behaviour and criminality.
Ending Family Violence Program -
which tackles violence within indigenous families and develops culturally appropriate solutions to protect adults and children from the effects of domestic violence.
Ending Offending Program -
which meets the needs of aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in a culturally appropriate manner. The overall aim is to modify the drinking and offending behaviour of indigenous offenders.
Most probation orders will have extra conditions such as:
- Reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis.
- Not owning any weapons.
- Not to consume drugs or alcohol.
- Not to contact specific people.
- Attending counselling or rehabilitation.
- Completing community service hours.
- Not leaving the state without permission.
Reporting to a Probation Officer
You may be required to report to a probation officer or be supervised by a probation officer (usually during community service/counselling). If you violate this term of your probation, your probation officer can charge you with a breach of probation which could result in further entries on your criminal record and a more extreme sentence on any future charges.
List of Probation and Parole Offices in Queensland
Beenleigh, Brisbane (Spring Hill / Chermside / Buranda), Bundaberg, Burleigh Heads, Caboolture, Cairns, Cleveland, Emerald, Gladstone, Gympie, Harvey Bay, Inala, Innisfail, Ipswich, Kingaroy, Logan City, Mackay, Mareeba, Maroochydore, Mt Gravatt, Mt Isa, Noosa Heads, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Roma, Southport, Thuringowa, Thursday Island, Townsville and Wynnum.
What Happens if you Breach your Parole?
A breach offence occurs when:
- You have committed another offence during your probationary period; or
- You have failed to comply with or complete a community-based order such as community service or an intensive corrections order.
Courts have zero tolerance for breaches of probation and will impose strict penalties. The penalties of the breach vary depending on the severity of the misconduct and the nature of the offence.
In Queensland, 80.5% of those who have breached a community service order have been returned to court and 24.87% were returned to custody.
Call a Probation Expert
If you are charged with a breach of probation offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over the phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert criminal lawyers and can represent you in court. Call us on 1300 066 669 if you have any questions. We can assist you no matter where you are located and can appear in every court.