Being convicted and sentenced to serve a period of full-time custody can be very daunting.
It will mean the defendant will need to spend time deprived of his or her freedom, have to endure the difficulties of being behind prison walls, including being expected to comply with prison rules and, of course, the general criminal law.
Those who cannot face the prospect of remaining behind bars will sometimes resort to taking matters into their own hands, and attempting to escape.
Section 310D of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is titled ‘escaping’ and provides as follows:
(a) who escapes or attempts to escape from lawful custody, or
(b) who, having been temporarily released from lawful custody, fails to return to lawful custody at the end of the time for which the inmate has been released,
is guilty of an offence.
Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 10 years.
This means that an escapee can face up to 10 years added on top of their current prison sentence.
In terms of the requirement to serve the sentence consecutively (added on) rather than concurrently (at the same time as the current sentence), section 55 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 provide that:
(1) In the absence of a direction under this section, a sentence of imprisonment imposed on an offender:
(a) who, when being sentenced, is subject to another sentence of imprisonment that is yet to expire, or
(b) in respect of whom another sentence of imprisonment has been imposed in the same proceedings,
is to be served concurrently with the other sentence of imprisonment and any further sentence of imprisonment that is yet to commence.
(2) The court imposing the sentence of imprisonment may instead direct that the sentence is to be served consecutively (or partly concurrently and partly consecutively) with the other sentence of imprisonment or, if there is a further sentence of imprisonment that is yet to commence, with the further sentence of imprisonment.
(3) A direction under this section has effect according to its terms.
(4) In this section, a reference to a sentence of imprisonment is taken to be a reference to:
(a) the non-parole period of the sentence, in the case of a sentence for which a non-parole period has been set, or
(b) the term of the sentence, in the case of a sentence for which a non-parole period has not been set.
(5) This section does not apply to:
(a) a sentence of imprisonment imposed on an offender in relation to an offence involving an assault, or any other offence against the person, committed by the offender while a convicted inmate of a correctional centre, or
(a1) a sentence of imprisonment imposed on an offender in relation to an offence involving an assault, or any other offence against the person, against a juvenile justice officer committed by the offender while a person subject to control, or
(b) a sentence of imprisonment imposed on an offender in relation to an offence involving an escape from lawful custody committed by the offender while an inmate of a correctional centre (whether or not the escape was from a correctional centre).
As seen in Section 55(5)(b), this section does not apply to prison escapes and must be served on top of the offender’s current sentence.
With regards to the penalty received, it does not mean an automatic period of 10 years imprisonment is added on top of your current sentence.
As with all offences that offenders are sentenced on, the court is to take into account a range of factors pursuant to Section 21A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 to determine what sentence to impose and how harsh the resulting sentence will be. T
These may include factors such as remorse, prospects of rehabilitation, likelihood of reoffending and so on.
Is it worth it?
There have been both successful escapes, as well as unsuccessful attempts at escaping in the past.
A large number of those who escaped successfully ended up being caught by the police further down the road, whether it was after a few days or 11 years.
Of these daring escape attempts, there have been instances in which the escapee would be involved in a shootout with the police resulting in their death. Others would sometimes commit further offences in the commission of the escape, such us holding innocent people at gunpoint or grand theft auto.
These factors will undoubtedly result in the further increase of the total sentence of the offender, if not already resulting in the serious injury or death of the escapee and a person should strongly consider their options before attempting to go against the law and escape from prison.