A court order, formerly known as a probation order, placing an offender under the supervision of a probation officer for a period of between six months and three years, imposed (only with the consent of the offender) instead of a sentence of imprisonment. Such orders may be imposed on any offenders over the age of 16; they are most commonly imposed on first offenders, young offenders, elderly offenders in need of support, and offenders whose crimes are not serious. The order contains conditions for the supervision and behaviour of the offender during the rehabilitation period.
If the offender is convicted of a further offence while undergoing community rehabilitation, or he does not comply with the conditions specified in the community rehabilitation order, the court may punish him for the original offence as though he had just been convicted of it.
Community rehabilitation orders are being replaced by community orders under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and will no longer be available when that Act is fully implemented (expected to occur in 2009).