What is an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)? Sentencing Laws in NSW
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What is an Intensive Corrections Order?
An Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’), is a term of imprisonment that is served by an offender in the Community. An ICO provides an alternative to a short prison sentence, in an attempt to “ensure that offenders address their offending behaviour and are held accountable.”
Can I get an ICO?
A Court may direct that a term of imprisonment is served in the community, by way of an ICO, where it is in the interests of community safety to do so. This requirement recognises that community safety is not simply met by putting an offender in jail, but that jail can often have the opposite effect on an offender. Focusing on rehabilitation, which is more likely to occur with supervision and access to programs in the community, can often be a more effective way to reduce reoffending.
A court can only impose an ICO as an alternative to fulltime imprisonment where the term of imprisonment does not exceed two years (in the case of a single offence), or three years (for multiple offences). This means, before imposing an ICO, the court must consider three questions:
- Whether a sentence of imprisonment is appropriate, considering all possible alternatives
- The length of the sentence
- If the sentence is within the appropriate length, whether it is appropriate for that sentence of imprisonment to be served in the community by way of an ICO
A court must usually obtain and consider a Sentencing Assessment Report from Community Corrections, prior to making an ICO.
A court cannot impose an ICO for certain offences. These include:
- Certain sexual offences
- Terrorism offences
- Breaches of serious crime prevention and public safety orders
- Offences involving the discharge of a firearm
What conditions can a Court impose?
All ICO’s are subject to two mandatory conditions:
- The offender must not commit any offence
- The offender must submit to supervision by Community Corrections. Community Corrections will monitor an offender’s compliance with the Court order and develop a case plan to minimise the risk of reoffending and assist an offender’s successful integration back into society. An offender must comply with the directions of a community corrections order, including in relation to:
- Where the offender is residing
- Participation in programs and treatment
- Engagement in employment and education
A Court must, other than in exceptional circumstances, impose at least one additional condition. These additional conditions can include:
- Home detention
- Electronic monitoring
- A curfew
- Community service work
- A condition requiring the offender to participate in a rehabilitation program or receive treatment
- To abstain from alcohol or drugs
- A condition prohibiting the offender from associating with particular people
- A condition restricting the offender from visiting a particular place or area
A court can also impose further conditions, that are tailored to meet the needs of a particular offender.
What happens if I breach an ICO?
As an ICO is a term of imprisonment, it is important to strictly comply with the conditions of the order.
If an offender fails to comply with their ICO, either by committing further offences or failing to comply with another condition, Community Corrections or the State Parole Authority, may take significant action.
Community Corrections can deal with a minor breach of an ICO in the following ways:
- Recording the breach and taking no action
- Providing an informal warning
- Providing a formal warning and warning the offender that any further breaches will be reported to the Parole Authority
- Imposing a curfew condition, or another direction to the offender.
In the case of a more serious breach, Community Corrections will provide a report to the State Parole Authority. The state Parole Authority have the following options in response to a breach:
- Take no action and note the report
- Adjourn the decision to another day – this usually occurs where a further offence is committed, to see what happens at Court.
- Impose more conditions on the ICO such as a curfew or home detention.
- Revoking the ICO – this means that the offender would be held in custody until either the order expires, or the order is reinstated.
This page contains general information only. If you have a matter before a NSW Court and require advice or representation for sentencing, you can book an appointment with one of our expert criminal lawyers. Your initial conference is free, and we offer affordable, fixed fee pricing.