Good character in sentencing

We are reviewing section 21A(5A) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW), and other relevant sections, and the common law relating to the use of “good character” in sentencing.

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Preliminary submissions

We are now calling for preliminary submissions on issues relevant to the terms of reference.

Please email your preliminary submission to by 9 July 2024.

For more information about making a submission, visit our Have your say page.


Terms of reference

The Sentencing Council is asked to conduct a review of the operation of section 21A(5A) and other relevant sections of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and the common law that relate to the use of "good character" in sentencing, and make any recommendations for reform that it considers appropriate.

In undertaking the review, the Sentencing Council should consider:

  • whether the limitations on the use of evidence concerning 'good character' or a lack of previous convictions in certain sentencing proceedings, as per s 21A(5A) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, should be extended to all sentencing proceedings for child sexual offending by removing the requirement that the offender's good character or lack of previous convictions, “was of assistance to the offender in the commission of the offence”;
  • the operation of good character as a mitigating factor in sentence proceedings in general, including the interaction between good character and other mitigating factors and the purposes of sentencing, the utility of good character evidence in sentence proceedings, and whether the use to which good character evidence is put in sentence proceedings remains appropriate, equitable, and fit for purpose;
  • the experience of victim-survivors in all sentencing proceedings involving the admission of evidence of good character and whether there are any legislative or other changes that could be made to improve their experience;
  • procedures for receiving good character evidence in sentencing proceedings; and
  • any other matter the Council considers relevant.

Received 11 April 2024

Last updated:

14 May 2024

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