Public Defenders

Welcome to the P​ublic Defenders website​

Public Defenders are salaried barristers independent of the government who appear in serious criminal matters for clients who have been granted legal aid. Learn more about Public Defenders.

We do not provide general legal advice to the public.  If you need legal help, contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 

Public Defenders Annual Conference:
16 & 17 March 2019


Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas

On Monday 30 April 2018, a new legislative scheme for all indictable matters commenced, involving the abolition of committals as we know them and, for state charges, the introduction of statutory caps on discounts for the utilitarian benefit of a plea of guilty. To assist practitioners, the Public Defenders have a paper explaining the scheme (Early Guilty Pleas: A New Ball Game) and have compiled relevant documentation for the use of practitioners, including relevant protocols and model explanations to clients. Click here for access. 

New sentencing laws

On Monday 24 September 2018, very substantial changes to sentencing options will commence.  The changes involve the abolition of s9 bonds, Community Service Orders, Home Detention Orders, s10(1)(b) bonds and s12 bonds (suspended sentences). 

A new form of Intensive Correction Order (ICO), as well as two completely new sentencing orders will be introduced:  Community Correction Orders (CCO) and Conditional Release Orders (CRO).  Many existing sentences will automatically convert into one of the new orders. 

The main amendments are to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999.  The amendments should be incorporated into the consolidated versions of those Acts on the Legislation NSW website soon.

Meanwhile, the amending legislation may be found here:

To assist practitioners, we have assembled resources including an overview of the changes, some references and helpful links:

Sentencing Bench Book - Community-Based Orders Generally 
Quick reference guide to sentencing reforms - 27.8.18 
Second reading speech
New South Wales Law Reform Commission, Sentencing, Report 139 (2013) 
Clare Ringland and Don Weatherburn, 'The impact of intensive correction orders   on re-offending' (2013) 176 Crime and Justice Bulletin 1
Joanna JJ Wang and Suzanne Poynton, 'Intensive correction orders versus short prison sentence: A comparison of re-offending' (2017) 207 Crime and Justice Bulletin
Department of Justice information page

Legal Aid training days

Legal Aid NSW is providing free training for practitioners on the reforms.  The dates and locations for the training can be found here. To register for the training, go to:


CPD Seminar

On 21 August 2018 the Bar Association hosted a CPD seminar on the reforms presented by Richard Wilson, Deputy Senior Public Defender, and Luke Grant, Assistant Commissioner, Corrections Strategy and Policy.  A recording will be available in the members sections of the Bar Association website very soon.


Public Defenders are proud to be a 2014/2015 Signatory to the TJMF Psychological Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession

If you experience difficulty reading any of the documents on this website and you require an accessible version, please email