How to avoid a criminal record despite pleading or being found guilty


Dismissals under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 are a way to avoid a criminal record despite pleading guilty to or being found guilty of, a criminal or traffic offence.

Getting a section 10 dismissal means that no conviction will be recorded on your criminal or traffic record. It also means, in the case of traffic offences, that no demerit points can be recorded against you.

Types of section 10 orders upon a plea or finding of guilt

 Section 10(1)(a) Dismissal

The Court dismisses the offence without recording a conviction on your criminal record and imposes no conditions.

 Section 10(1)(b) Conditional Release Order (CRO)

 A CRO allows the Court to decide against recording a conviction but must include conditions that the offender does not commit an offence and must appear before the Court if called upon to do so. A CRO may also include other conditions as the case requires.

Section 10(1)(c) With an intervention program

 The Court dismisses the offence without recording a conviction on your criminal record. Additionally, the Court directs you to enter and complete an intervention or rehabilitation program.

It is important to note that with an order under sections 10(1)(b) or (c), the order will apply for a specified period. Once completed, you are free from the restraint of such conditions.

Can I get section 10 dismissal?

Section 10 dismissals are available for all criminal and traffic offences, except where a person has been guilty of a second major traffic offence within a 5-year period.

However, the Courts are strict in the assessment of whether to grant section 10 dismissals.

In deciding whether to grant a section 10 dismissal the Court will consider the following:

  1. The person’s character, antecedents (i.e., history), age, health, and mental condition,
  2. The trivial nature of the offence,
  3. The extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed, and
  4. Any other matter that the Court thinks proper to consider.

How do I increase my chances of getting a section 10 dismissal?

A section 10 dismissal will be more likely if you can convince the Court of the following:

  • You are a person of good character, which can be done by preparing character references.
  • The offence occurred during a difficult time in your life. You should provide instructions to your lawyer on this if applicable.
  • You have taken steps towards addressing any underlying issues which may have contributed to the offending. This can be done through attending counselling, a course or program (anger management, drug and alcohol, Traffic Offenders Program) and/or seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist and having your lawyer obtain a report there from.
  • An early plea of guilty is also relevant as it shows that you quickly accepted responsibility and are remorseful for the offending. Additionally, you maximise the potential utilitarian discount on offer for an early plea of guilt.

Hamilton Janke Lawyers will provide realistic advice about your chances of obtaining a section 10 dismissal. If a section 10 is not appropriate in your case, our lawyers will still work to achieve the most lenient outcome in your circumstances.

If you or someone you know needs legal advice or representation for a criminal law matter, contact the team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers 24/7 by calling 4038 1666.

Written By
Reviewed By
James Janke
James Janke

James Janke is founding partner at Hamilton Janke Lawyers, and has more then decade of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. Admitted to both the Supreme Court of New South Wales and High Court of Australia

Criminal Record

Get Legal Advice