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As a means of combating organised crime, Queensland introduced some restrictive laws that consequently make consorting illegal. Being charged with consorting could lead to an individual facing specific penalties.
In this write-up, we will be taking a delve into every aspect of consorting. Specifically, this includes the legislation regarding consorting, penalties and the possible defences to the crime of consorting.
If an individual is convicted in a Queensland (Qld) court for a Consorting offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in Queensland.
Before going into these areas, there is a need to define some legal keywords relating to the crime of consorting.
Legally a recognised offender means an adult who has a record of being convicted for a relevant offence, whether through indictment or a summary conviction in Queensland.
A relevant offence refers to an indictable crime that carries a maximum of 5 years imprisonment sentence.
The legal definition for an official warning is evident in Section 53BAA of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld). According to this Section, an official warning means a caution delivered to a person, whether in writing or orally.
The official warning usually states that a person is a recognised offender, and continually associating with such a person can lead to the offence of habitual consorting.
According to Section 77A of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld), consort refers to associating with an individual by seeking out or accepting to be in their company.
Based on this law section, consorting with another may not be for criminal activity. Also, consorting could be through any electronic device.
According to Section 77B of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld), it is an offence to frequently consort with at least two recognised offenders, whether together or individually.
However, the crime of consorting can only occur after a person has received an official warning regarding associating with the recognised offenders.
Under this section of the law, the maximum penalty for the crime of habitual consorting is 300 penalty units or three years imprisonment.
Additionally, the law clarifies that a person may not face charges for habitual consorting if they only consorted with each recognised offender on a single occasion. This legislation further states that the crime of habitual consorting does not apply to a child.
According to Section 77C of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld), there are some circumstances under which the court may dismiss a charge of habitual consorting.
Consequently, claiming to have been in these situations can serve as a defence against the accusation of habitual consorting. The court can dismiss an allegation of habitual consorting when:
In a consorting trial, proving the genuineness and the reasonableness for any of these defences is the defendant's responsibility.
Furthermore, this law section explains who can be classified as a close family member. According to this legislation, an immediate family member refers to a child, stepchild, spouse, or someone who shares parental responsibility.
A close family member could also be a grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild, step-grandchild, sister, brother, step-brother, step-sister. It could be an uncle, a niece or nephew, a first cousin, an aunt, a sister or brother in law, a parent, or a son or daughter.
Additionally, this legislation defines an educational institution. An educational institution refers to an approved education service. Specifically, this could be a state-owned educational institution or a non-state-owned institute.
Also, the law clarifies that health service has to do with managing a person's physical or mental health. This involves counselling regarding the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
However, a registered health practitioner or a licensed psychotherapist or counsellor must provide the health services.
The seriousness of the offence determines the court that will listen to the case. Primarily there are two types of cases. These are civil and criminal cases. Civil cases refer to disputes between two individuals or organisations, with one party suing the other for compensation.
While for criminal cases, this refers to offences against the community. The crime of consorting falls under criminal cases.
Most civil cases are settled in the magistrate court, while the supreme/district court handles criminal cases.
There are several intentions behind a court giving a sentence. The intention behind a sentence could be for:
The court may give a sentence to punish the offender for their actions justly.
To discourage the public from engaging in a particular criminal activity, a court can issue a penalty for an act.
The purpose of giving a sentence could be for establishing the conditions under which the rehabilitation of an offender can take place.
The intention behind giving an offender a penalty can be for the protection of the community.
The court can issue a sentence to condemn or denounce an offending act publicly.
When sentencing an offender, the court may consider certain factors. These factors can determine if the court will give a lesser punishment than what the offender deserves. Some of these factors include:
There are times when the law against consorting can fall to misuse. In such cases, the best option is to seek legal assistance. Consequently, this can increase the chances of the court dismissing the allegation of consorting.
If an individual is found guilty of a consorting offence in QLD, 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.
Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) - https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1899-009
Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld) - https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2000-005
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