The most serious type of penalty that a Judge or Magistrate can impose for criminal and traffic offences in NSW is ‘full-time custody’ (also called ‘imprisonment’ or ‘prison’).

An imprisonment sentence can be either full time prison or an alternative to full time prison spent in the community. An alternative to full time prison includes an intensive corrections order which can be served in the community with strict supervision.

The courts will only impose full time imprisonment after having exhausted all other possible alternative penalties.

the Judge must impose a “non-parole” and “parole” period. The combination of non-parole and parole period is considered the total term of a sentence of imprisonment. Unless the Judge or Magistrate finds that there are special circumstances’ justifying a reduction, the ‘non-parole period’ should not be less than three-quarters of the full term of the sentence.

The court cannot set a ‘non-parole period’ if the prison sentence if the total term of imprisonment is 6 months or less. 

The Judge or Magistrate can refuse to set a ‘non-parole period’ for any reason he or she deems sufficient. For example- if the offence is too serious or you have a bad criminal record. In the circumstance, the Judge or Magistrate must give reasons for not setting a ‘non-parole period’.