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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Consorting Offences Consorting Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

    Consorting Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

    In South Australia, consorting falls under the offences against public order. Based on this, committing the crime of consorting attracts specific penalties.

    These penalties could range from fines up to imprisonment sentences. The offence of consorting is a summary offence in SA and its disadvantages are evident in the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA).

    In this write-up, we will be taking into consideration the crime of consorting and the punishment a consorting offender is likely to face.

    If an individual is convicted in a South Australian (SA) court for a perjury offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in South Australia.

    The Offence of Consorting in SA

    The crime of consorting is present in Section 13 of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA). This section states that it is illegal for a person to frequently associate with a convicted offender, in or outside the state.

    Any individual who continues to associate with a convicted offender after receiving an official warning is guilty of an offence. Usually, a police officer gives the official notice, either in writing or orally. Under this section of the law, the maximum penalty for this offence is two years imprisonment.

    However, the law also states that a person may not be guilty of the crime of consorting unless they associate with more than one convicted offender, whether on the same day or different days.

    The law also states that for the person to be guilty, they must have associated with each convicted offender on two separate occasions.

    Furthermore, the court may not find an individual guilty of the crime of consorting if they can establish that their actions were reasonable based on the circumstance of the situation. Some of the events that could result in the court dismissing the case of consorting include;

    • The convicted offender was a close family member.
    • The consorting occurred when getting lawful employment or lawfully operating a business.
    • The consorting happened as a result of trying to acquire training or education.
    • The consorting took place in the course of getting medical aid.
    • The accused consorted with the convicted offender when seeking legal assistance.
    • The defendant consorted the convicted offender while in lawful custody or in the process of obeying a court order.

    Additionally, the law clarifies that consorting does not necessarily have to be physical. Apart from physically consorting a convicted offender, a person can also commit the crime of consorting either electronically or by any means of communication.

    The Court That Handles the Case of Consorting in SA

    In South Australia, several courts handle different criminal cases. Most times, the nature of the offence dictates the court where the trial will be held. The various courts in South Australia include the Magistrates court, District/Supreme Court and the Youth Court.

    The Magistrates Court deals with less severe offences; this includes crimes such as consorting. The prosecution is usually the police, and there is typically no jury.

    However, there are situations where the case can start from the magistrate and end up in the district or supreme court. The district/supreme court primarily handles serious indictable offences like murder offences in SA, sexual assualt offences in SA and others.

    For the youth court, this court listens to trials for offenders under eighteen.

    Principles of Sentencing

    Some principles guide the different courts in South Australia when determining the sentence to give an offender. These principles help the law courts to be fair in their judgement. These principles are evident in Section 10 of the Sentencing Act 2017 (SA); they include:

    • Proportionality

    Proportionality primarily refers to fairness and justice. This concept establishes that the court's judgement for an offence should be appropriate such that it is not too severe or less severe than is required.

    • Parity

    This principle has to do with the court giving similar penalties for similar offences committed under the same circumstances.

    • Totality

    The principle of totality guides the law court when passing judgement to an offender who has committed multiple offences. Totality has to do with the court passing sentence related to each of the crimes for which a person stands trial.

    Additionally, the court must not impose an imprisonment sentence except if the offender's crime warrants it. Also, the court can give an imprisonment sentence to ensure the community's safety.

    Factors that Influence Individual Sentencing

    Apart from sentencing principles, some factors can influence the court's decision when passing judgement to an offender. These factors are evident in Section 11 of the Sentencing Act 2017 (SA); they include:

    • Nature of the Offence

    The nature of the offence can play a role in the court's judgement. Consequently, this involves the seriousness of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the offence.

    • The Vulnerability of the Victim

    The victim's vulnerability has to do with age, physical well being, mental health, disability e.t.c.

    • The Effect of the Offence

    The aftermath of the offence can determine the penalty the court can give for a crime. Some violations serve as a threat to national security, while other crimes could leave several people severely injured.

    • Motivation

    When sentencing an offender, the court sometimes considers the motivation behind the crime. The reason for committing a crime may result from hatred or prejudice against a person or a particular group.

    • The Possibility of the Offender Committing the Crime Again

    The court may want to determine if there is a possibility of an offender committing the same crime again. This can influence the court's decision on giving a lesser punishment than what they deserve.

    • Remorse

    A sign of remorse on the offender's path can influence the court's decision to give a less severe punishment or not for an offence.

    • Acknowledging Fault

    An acknowledgement of an offence and the desire to make reparations can make the court give the offender a particular type of punishment for a crime.

    It is noteworthy that it is up to the court to consider any of these factors or not. Some offences may require the court to give a severe penalty without paying attention to these factors.

    Bottom Line

    When charged with consorting, it is crucial to seek legal assistance. This is because having the necessary information can create a better chance of having the case dismissed in court. Without legal aid, an individual can end up receiving an imprisonment sentence.

    Will a Consorting Offence in South Australia (SA) show up on a national criminal backgroud check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a consorting offence in SA, 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.

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