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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Consorting Offences Consorting Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    Consorting Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    Every citizen has a right to association in Australia, just like any reasonable country in the world. However, in some instances such requests can slip to abuse, especially where other community members begin to fear as a result of such association reasonably.

    It is an offence in the Northern Territory (NT) referred to as consorting for a person to habitually and knowingly associate or support their relationship with a convicted offender (offender of a serious indictable crime) under the law.

    Section 55A of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) prohibits such action per the legislation in the Northern Territory.

    If an individual is convicted in a Northern Territory (NT) court for a Consorting offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in the NT.

    Penalties for consorting offences in NT

    Subsection 1 of Section 55A of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) finds a person guilty of a consorting offence if they

    • Continue to be habitually consorting with one or more particular persons, and
    • The communication is done directly or through any other electronic means specified in the Act.

    Especially after receiving a relevant written notice that prohibits them from such association.

    The offence of consorting with convicted and known offenders in the NT is a two-year imprisonment term.

    Defences to a Consorting offence in the NT

    Consorting offences may usually become ambiguous, especially regarding the relationship between both parties. Subsection 2 of section 55A alerts various legal defences to a consorting offence in the NT.

    It is a defence to an offence of consorting if the defendant can prove;

    • They had reasonable proof approved and supported by the NT legislation, and
    • After the unintentional association with such person terminated the association on confirming they were against the specifications of the notice.

    Actions that lead to consorting

    Section 55A(3) of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) considers a person to consort or guilty of such offence if they

    • Communicate,
    • Remain in company,
    • Refer to the person or
    • Do any other action in contravention to the notice from the Police

    The subsection describes how a commissioner can issue a notice to the person to include;

    • ✔ Where the notified person and other persons specified in the notice are found guilty of the prescribed offence.
    • ✔ The commissioner reasonably believes that such notice can potentially prevent the occurrence of the prescribed offence that involves;
    • Multiple offenders
    • The intentional conjuring and consorting offence.

    What must the Unlawful Consorting Notice contain?

    S55A(5) of the Act stipulates the notice to specify the following instructions;

    • The obligation of the person under the notice
    • The consequences for disobeying any of the notice

    When the commissioner serves an official notice to an accused person, they must ensure that the recipient understands the matters in the notice. And where there are multiple offenders, the commissioner must give each person a separate notice with similar obligations.

    The notice given to any of the specified persons for the offence must be to the respect that;

    • They were in company with the notified person.
    • They communicated with the notified persons and any of the other specified persons.

    For this section, the offence is prescribed if it is;

    • Prescribed by regulations, and
    • Incurs a maximum penalty of more than ten years imprisonment.

    Other similar to that of Consorting

    Consorting is not a stand-alone offence and may even be mistaken for many other numerous offences under the Act.

    The Jury can equally change the original consorting sentencing to a more suitable one if it is not compatible with the evidence. There are many other offences similar to consorting, including;

    • Wanders about from place to place without reasonable exclude,
    • Beg for alms in a public place, streets, restricted area, passage or any other official areas
    • Possesses any harmful or proscribed material, drugs or articles
    • Harbours and consorts with reputed criminals

    Is guilty of a crime listed in the section 56 of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT).

    It is an offence that attracts penalties of;

    • 500 dollars in fine amounts or
    • Three months imprisonment, or
    • Both

    Finding of guilt after an initial offence under section 56

    A person who, after being guilty of certain offences under section 56, commits a further offence that includes;

    • Collecting alms, gathering, subscriptions, false pretence,
    • Attempts to deceive others or impose upon them,
    • Posses any picklock, key, crow jack or other specified instruments for aiding criminal acts
    • Attempted to commit an indictable offence

    Is guilty of an offence that incurs as much as;

    • 1000 dollars in fine amounts and six months imprisonment

    Or

    • both depending on the levels of aggravation

    Offence of keeping stolen goods

    One of the results of habitual consorting is that a person may become suspected of keeping the stash or stolen material of the convicted offender.

    • Any one who has in their possession stolen property and;
    • Keeps it as their personal property,
    • It makes it a possession of another person,
    • Keeps it in another premise as their property
    • Hands it off to another who is not a legal owner

    And they know the property to be reasonably stolen is guilty of an offence under section 61 of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT).

    It is a crime that incurs as much as;

    • $2000 in fine amounts
    • 12 months imprisonment,
    • Or both depending on the circumstances of the offence

    Offensive acts in public

    The Police have the power to disperse a crowd or direct a person out of a premise if they suspect a riotous movement. Any act that involves a gathering or group whether equally guilty of the offence of consorting or not or;

    • Those disturbing public peace
    • Riotous, offensive or disorderly acts (e.g. Affray offences).
    • Engaging in acts that will reasonably annoy others
    • Disrupting the privacy of others or peace in the vicinity

    Such a person is guilty of an offence that incurs as much as

    • $2000 in fine amounts or
    • Six months imprisonment
    • Or both

    Violent Disorder

    A person found guilty of a violent offence if they are two or more people in the violent gathering. It is especially a severe offence where the person intends to conduct himself in such offence knowing the implications,

    • And is reckless to the conduct of their actions.
    • It is an offence that incurs up to 12 months of imprisonment.

    Will a Consorting Offence in the NT show up on a national criminal backgroud check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a consorting offence in the Northern Territory (NT), the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police clearance check.

    Individuals can obtain a nationally coordinated criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) -https://legislation.nt.gov.au/en/Legislation/SUMMARY-OFFENCES-ACT-1923

    Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) (Austlii References) - http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nt/consol_act/soa1923189/

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