Covid-19 Criminal Law Update as at 30th March

31 MAR 2020


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a great number of changes to the way we work, socialise and generally interact. The criminal justice system is no different, and a number of laws and processes have been modified to limit physical interaction and protect vulnerable people during the pandemic. We have set out some of the more important changes below, but it is important to remember that the medical advice and the law around this situation is changing rapidly, at a state and national level. This information is accurate at the time of writing, but please contact us to obtain the most up-to-date advice.


Under new powers granted last week, Police can now issue infringement notices of $1,000.00 for individuals and $5,000.00 for corporations in NSW that breach COVID-19 Directions such as social distancing and isolation requirements or restrictions on public gatherings. This is in addition to the existing offences that can result in fines of up to $11,000.00 (plus a further $5,500.00 per day for a continuing offence) and jail sentences of up to six months for individuals, and fines of up to $55,000.00 (plus $27,500.00 per day for a continuing offence) for corporations.

Public Health Orders are being updated as the situation progresses. Current information can be found on the State Government’s COVID-19 site at


The Commissioner of Corrective Services now has the power to release some inmates early on parole if it is deemed reasonably necessary to do so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new legislation refers specifically to parole, and does not apply to bail. The Commissioner has the power to release inmates from a particular class, based on things like types of offences, the amount of time left in inmates’ sentence or non-parole period, or inmates’ age, health or vulnerability. Early release on parole will not be available for inmates serving sentences for murder, terrorism or particular serious sex offences, inmates serving life sentences or sentences of at least 12 years in custody, inmates serving sentences for commonwealth offences or post-sentence inmates. It is not yet known if or when these powers will be exercised.

If you have any questions about how your criminal law matter might be affected by these changes, please do not hesitate to email us or give us a call.

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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