See also Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order above.

The ACT Supreme Court has a sentencing option for people whose drug and alcohol use has contributed to their offending. The Supreme Court sentencing process involves referral to the Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List (DASL), the imposition of a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order (DATO) (see above) and engagement in an intensive treatment program, overseen by a judge. Where an offender may be eligible and suitable for a DATO, they can be committed (referred) to the DASL from the Magistrates Court, for the purposes of seeking assessment for a DATO. If the Supreme Court declines to make a DATO, it can remit (return) the proceedings back to the Magistrates Court if the offence for which the offender is to be sentenced could have been dealt with summarily by the Magistrates Court (s 80U).

To be eligible to participate in the DASL and be subject to a DATO, an offender must:

  • be over 18 and live in the ACT
  • plead guilty to an offence that is not a serious violence or sexual offence (s 12A(1)(a))
  • be sentenced to a prison term of between one and four years (s 12A(1)(b))
  • be dependent on alcohol or a controlled drug (s 12A(2)(a)(i))
  • be sentenced for an offence in circumstances where the alcohol or drug dependency substantially contributed to the commission of the offence (s 12A(2)(a)(i))
  • give informed consent to the order being made (s 12A(2)(c))

If these conditions are met and the Court considers that an offender’s participation in the DASL is appropriate, having regard to relevant sentencing considerations, any concerns of a victim about their safety or welfare and the objectives of making at DATO under s 80O, then the Court may fully suspend the sentence of imprisonment on the condition that the offender agrees to complete a treatment program (12A(2)).

Under s 80O, the objects of a DATO are to:

  • facilitate rehabilitation
  • reduce dependency on alcohol or a controlled drug
  • reduce associated health risks
  • assist an offender’s integration into the community and
  • promote community safety by reducing the level of criminal activity cause by alcohol and controlled drug dependence

Information in relation to the DASL, including a short video, can be found here.

A DATO must contain a custodial part (s 80V(d)(i) and a treatment and supervision part (s 80V(d)(ii)). The custodial part is a sentence of at least one year but not more than four years that is fully suspended (s 80W). The treatment and supervision part includes ‘core conditions’ and ‘treatment program conditions’ (s 80X). The length of the treatment and supervision part of the order is determined by the Court, but most not end later than the custodial part (s 80X).

Core conditions relate to reoffending, disclosure, reporting, residence, visitation by the treatment team, appearance in court and compliance with directions (s 80Y). Treatment program conditions require the offender to complete a program of treatment and comply with conditions imposed by the Court, which may include conditions relating to detoxification, counselling and other treatment, attending meetings, participating in education or employment programs, submitting to alcohol and drug testing, wearing or installing an alcohol or drug detection usage device and living at a stated place (s 80Z).

If a treatment and supervision part of an order ends before the end of the sentence of imprisonment, then the Court must make a good behavior order for the remaining period (s 80ZA)(see above).

If an offender breaches a treatment order (other than by committing a further offence), they may be warned or sanctioned, the order may be amended or further conditions imposed and/or the custodial part of the suspended sentence of imprisonment may be imposed for between 3 and 14 days. The Court may also cancel the treatment order and impose the custodial part of the suspended sentence in full or in part or resentence the offender (s 80ZB). The ‘Behavioural Contract’, which applies to participants in the DASL sets out sanctions for breaches, as well as incentives for good behaviour, can be found here.

If an offender who is subject to a DATO commits a further offence punishable by imprisonment in the ACT or elsewhere then (s80ZD(1)):

  • where no sentence of imprisonment is imposed for the further offence, the court may make no order, warn the offender, amend or cancel the order imposing the suspended sentence or resentence the offender (s80ZD(2)) or
  • where a sentence of imprisonment is imposed for the further offence, the court must impose the suspended sentence (s80ZD(3)).

If the court orders the imposition of the sentence for a further offence, it must order that the offender serve all or part of the sentence by full-time detention (s 80ZD(4)(a)) and may reduce the sentence to be served to take account of the extent to which the offender complied with the DATO (s 80ZD(4)(b)).

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