It’s the holy grail of traffic law – the section 10.
In this blog we give you the low down on what a section 10 is, how to get one and what it could mean for your case.
What is a section 10?
A ‘section 10’ order is where a magistrate finds you guilty of an offence but agrees not to convict you.
If the magistrate makes an order under section 10 they will either:
- dismiss the matter entirely, or
- make you enter a “conditional release order” (which is a type of good behaviour bond).
The benefits of a section 10
There are 3 main benefits to getting a section 10:
- Keep your licence – many traffic offences have automatic licence disqualifications upon conviction. If you get a section 10 these disqualifications don’t apply.
- Avoid demerit points – if a magistrate gives you a section 10 for a traffic matter, the RMS doesn’t record the demerit points against you.
- No criminal conviction – most people are surprised that they can get a criminal record for traffic matters. A section 10 however means that no conviction is recorded, and usually means avoiding a criminal record.
Common misconceptions about section 10
There are a few common misconceptions about what getting a section 10 means. It is important to understand the following points about section 10s:
- A section 10 is different to ‘not guilty’ – Lots of people think that getting a section 10 is the same as being found ‘not guilty’. We understand why people make this mistake. The language is confusing, using the word ‘dismissed’.
A section 10 is still a finding of guilt, it’s just that the word ‘conviction’ isn’t attached and no further punishment is imposed.
- A section 10 still goes on your record – people often think that getting a ‘section 10’ means the offence is not recorded anywhere. Unfortunately this is not true.
The offence is still put onto your traffic and police record. It’s just that the word ‘conviction’ isn’t attached to it.
The police, courts and RMS will always be able to see that you have previously committed the offence. Thankfully though it won’t usually be disclosed if you do a normal criminal record search (e.g. for employment).
- It’s not easy to get a section 10 – there’s a misconception that everyone is entitled to one section 10 in their lifetime. This isn’t the case. There are a number of criteria that you need to meet to get a section 10 – including how serious the offence was. Even if it’s your first offence ever, you are not guaranteed to get a section 10.
How do I get a section 10?
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
A magistrate can only grant a section 10 if they are satisfied that you meet the criteria. They will be interested in:
- your personal circumstances
- your record
- how serious the offence is
- whether there were any extenuating circumstances for committing the offence
- what you have done to reduce your chances of reoffending (e.g. a Traffic Offender Program)
The key is to carefully think about what factors are in your favour and then bring evidence to prove each point.
If you would like to discuss how to achieve a section 10 in your case, call us today.