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Section 10 Dismissal and preserving your criminal record

Crimes like murder and sexual assault stir the most attention in the media, but it is important to be aware of non-serious offences as well because they are more common. When people engage in fights or arguments, they could be charged with common assault. When people drive dangerously, they could be charged with drink-driving. If you are guilty of these non-serious offences, there is a chance that you will have a criminal record. No one wants a criminal record because it can stop you from getting the job you want; prevents you from travelling to certain countries; and damages your reputation. In this article, we will talk about how we can help you prevent a criminal record.

A Section 10 dismissal is the most popular term in NSW criminal matters for a good reason. It is a potential lifeline, when you are found guilty of a non-serious offence, because the Judge may decide not to record a conviction. In Australia, criminal offences can vary in severity: murder and sexual assault are very serious; while drink-driving, possession of illicit drugs, and common assault are usually non-serious. The Judge considers many factors before granting a Section 10 dismissal including the person’s character, prior convictions, age, health, mental condition and so on.

To prepare for a Section 10 application, you will need at least three character references and a letter of apology. Depending on your charges, you may need further supporting documents.

A good character reference is written by people who are of good reputation. This means that they have not been in trouble with the police and are respected in the community. They could be your close friends, colleagues, neighbours and members of a group which you belong e.g. sport and church.

A good letter of apology would be addressed to the victim of the offence; acknowledge the foolishness of your behaviour; express feelings of remorse; and share reasons why you will not re-offend again.

For international students and new immigrants, being aware of a Section 10 dismissal is highly important. A criminal offence is related to condition 8303 of student visas and other temporary visas. It states that “you must not become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community”. Therefore, if a visa holder has a conviction recorded, his/her visa will be cancelled and he/she will no longer be allowed to return to Australia. In August 2020, our team successfully applied for a Section 10 dismissal for two international students in a common assault matter.

If you need legal advice for your criminal matter and would like a quotation for our services, please give us a call on 02 9283 8588.

Disclaimer: This publication is general information only and does not purport to provide legal advice. We do not accept responsibility for any losses for reliance upon this publication.

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