Intensive Correction Orders (ICO) represent a significant aspect of the criminal justice sentencing system in New South Wales (NSW), offering an alternative to traditional sentences such as incarceration. This blog post will delve into the nature, eligibility criteria, conditions, and benefits of ICOs.

ICOs aim to balance the need for punishment with the opportunity for rehabilitation. By doing so, they seek to reduce reoffending rates and limit contact of offenders with NSW’s prison system.

To learn more about how sentencing works and the different sentencing options available click here.

Remember, if you ever find yourself being charged with an offence, it is critical to seek trusted legal advice. The skilled Lawyers here at National Criminal Lawyers® strive to achieve the best result for each and every case. Contact us now by clicking here.


Eligibility for ICOs

The eligibility for an ICO in NSW is determined by several factors, including the nature of the offense, the offender’s criminal history, and the risk they pose to the community. Generally, ICOs are available for sentences of imprisonment of two years or less. However, there are some exemptions.

Certain offences are exempt from the possibility of ICOs due to their seriousness. This includes but is not limited to murder, sexual offences, terrorism offences, offences involving the discharge of a firearm. The full list of excluded offences can be found at Section 67 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act 2007.

Further, Section 68 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 outlines the limits in relation to applicable duration of the term of imprisonment.

Intensive correction orders not available where imprisonment exceeds limits

(1)  An intensive correction order must not be made in respect of a single offence if the duration of the term of imprisonment imposed for the offence exceeds 2 years.

(2)  An intensive correction order may be made in respect of an aggregate sentence of imprisonment. However, the order must not be made if the duration of the term of the aggregate sentence exceeds 3 years.

(3)  Two or more intensive correction orders may be made in respect of each of 2 or more offences. However, the orders must not be made if—

(a)  the duration of the term of any individual term of imprisonment exceeds 2 years, and

(b)  the duration of the term of imprisonment imposed for all the offences exceeds 3 years.


Judges Process

A judge when determining whether to apply an ICO undergoes a three step journey.

  1. The first step involves considering all other penalties available and discovering that no penalty, but imprisonment is appropriate;
  2. The court would then determine of the term of imprisonment appropriate for the offence, which must fall within the legal requirements mentioned above; and
  3. The judge must them take into consideration numerous factors such as community safety to determine whether the sentence should be served via ICO or full-time imprisonment.

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Learn more about how sentencing works by clicking here.


Conditions of ICOs

The conditions attached to an ICO are tailored to the individual offender and can be harsh to reflect the seriousness of the crime. These conditions include standard conditions which all IROs are bound by as outlined in Section 73 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. These standard conditions include that the offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must be supervised by a community corrections officer.

However, courts are also required to at the time of the sentence impose at least one of the additional conditions referred to in Section 73A(2), unless satisfied there are exceptional circumstances. The requirements of such as follows are outlined in Section 73A.

1B.  The sentencing court must make a record of its reasons for not imposing an additional condition. The failure of the sentencing court to do so does not invalidate the sentence.

  1. The additional conditions of an intensive correction order that are available to be imposed are the following conditions (as directed by the sentencing court)—

(a)  a home detention condition,

(b)  an electronic monitoring condition,

(c)  a curfew condition imposing a specified curfew,

(d)  a community service work condition requiring the performance of community service work for a specified number of hours (not exceeding 750 hours or the number of hours prescribed by the regulations in respect of the class of offences to which the relevant offence belongs, whichever is the lesser),

(e)  a rehabilitation or treatment condition requiring the offender to participate in a rehabilitation program or to receive treatment,

(f)  an abstention condition requiring abstention from alcohol or drugs or both,

(g)  a non-association condition prohibiting association with particular persons,

(h)  a place restriction condition prohibiting the frequenting of or visits to a particular place or area.

  1. The sentencing court must not impose a home detention condition or community service work condition on an intensive correction order unless an assessment report states that the offender is suitable to be the subject of such a condition.

It is clear that such conditions vary from the point of protecting the community, while also allowing conditions to rehabilitate offenders and allow effective treatment, so as to limit the chance of reoffending.



With reference to Section 73A(2)(d), conditions relating to Community Service Work can be found in Section 14 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Regulation 2017.


Benefits of ICOs

The introduction of ICOs has brought several benefits to the criminal justice system in NSW. One of the most significant advantages is the potential for reduced reoffending, as ICOs focus on rehabilitation and addressing the underlying causes of criminal behaviour. Additionally, by allowing offenders to remain in the community, ICOs support the maintenance of factors known to positively impact rehabilitation outcomes such as family. Furthermore, ICOs relieve pressure on the prison system, contributing to reduced overcrowding and enabling resources to be focused on offenders who pose a greater risk to the community.

Case Study

The team here at National Criminal Lawyers®. was able to represent a client who had been charged and found guilty of 3 charges of Sexually touching another person without consent pursuant to section 61KC(a) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), and 1 charge of take/detain person w/i to obtain advantage pursuant to section 86(1)(b) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), following a trial by 12 jurors.

Our client was employed as a security guard on a construction site at the time, when the victim a 16 year old was allegedly lured and detained by our client inside a small room within the construction sight before allegedly being forced to carry out the alleged sexual acts.

Given the facts of the case, once found guilty, gaol time was considered inevitable. Despite the extreme nature of the case, the skilled Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers®, were able to make strong sentencing submissions regarding the mental and physical health of our client along with other submissions proving that it would be in the best interest of the court to issue an Intensive Corrections Order rather than incarceration.

It should be noted that according to Judicial Information Research System (JIRS), of the individuals who pleaded not guilty but were found guilty of section 61KC(a) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), 66.7% of those individuals received prison sentences.

The court handed down the sentence of an Intensive Corrections Order for 3 years, marking a great outcome for our client.

The team here at National Criminal Lawyers® strive to aim the best possible outcome for all our clients as we did in this case. Contact us now by clicking here to discuss your matter with one of our many talented Lawyers.

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