Losi Filipo's discharge without conviction explained

Losi Filipo (Getty)
Losi Filipo (Getty)

Wellington Lions player Losi Filipo was handed a discharge without conviction after bashing four people in central Wellington in 2015.

Many view this as escaping punishment - so what is its legal significance, and what other options are there for the courts when dealing with instances like Mr Filipo's?

A discharge without conviction can be given when an offender pleads, or is found guilty after trial.

It can be used at the court's discretion and will keep your criminal record clean if a conviction could heavily impact your career or stop you from travelling.

The law states discretion is to be used when "the court is satisfied that the direct and indirect consequences of a conviction would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence".

Another option is for a judge to hand out a conviction and then discharge the person without a sentence, if it's felt the baggage that comes with a criminal record is punishment enough.

Defendants could also receive diversion, like former All Black Sione Lauaki did in 2006 after assaulting a security officer.

That's when a first-time offender commits a less serious crime and is dealt with "out of court".

Finally, there's the suspended sentence.

That's when the defendant is convicted, but will only need to serve the punishment if they reappear in court - also known as a good behaviour bond.