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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Offensive Behaviour Offences Offensive Behaviour Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    Offensive Behaviour Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    One of the fundamental duties of every individual to society is that they conduct themselves civilly and respect the laws. There are lots of offences that violate the rights of others.

    These offences can be settled through Police fines or community services if they are less significant before the local court.

    However, certain behaviour offences are treated summarily before a local court and attract penalties (not as severe as indictable offences in NSW).

    The Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) legislates many of the offences related to offensive behaviors and their associated penalties in New South Wales (NSW).

    If an individual is convicted in a New South Wales (NSW) court for an Offensive Behaviour offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a criminal history check in NSW.

    Penalties of Offensive Behaviours in NSW

    Part 2 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) describes and lists offensive behaviours in New South Wales (NSW) public spaces.

    1. Offensive Conduct in NSW

    Section 4 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) describes an offence where a person disrespectfully conducts themselves in public. It includes where the accused person commits the offence in a public place or within the view or hearing of public space.

    It is an offence that incurs six penalty units or three months imprisonment. Settlements for penalty units are done in fees and fine amounts.

    Subsection 2 further explains that a person is not guilty if they only use offensive language.

    However, it can be a defence to this case if the defendant proves they had reasonable excuse for conducting themselves in the manner.

    1. Offensive language offences in NSW

    Section 4A of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) prohibits a person or group from using offensive or disrespectful language in a public space. It includes where the language or such disrespectful speech is done before;

    • Certain targeted groups,
    • A school,
    • Religious gathering.

    It is an offence that carries a penalty as much as six penalty units

    However, the court will consider it a defence if the accused person can prove that they had sufficient reason for conducting themselves in that manner.

    There are various sentencing laws the court can also adopt for a person they find guilty of the Offence. The subsection three section 4A of the Act allows the court to issue alternative sentencing like;

    However, subsection 6 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) stipulates the maximum period a person can do community service work as 100 hours.

    1. Obscene exposure in NSW

    It is considered a public offence to expose sensitive parts of their body or other parts, especially in certain areas. It consists of all cases where the accused person intentionally and knowing it to be offensive exposes such parts of their body.

    It is an offence to expose such parts, especially in;

    • Public places, or areas that the public can easily access
    • School or areas where children and minors are found,
    • Parks, gatherings, offices, malls, or other generally accessible places.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as ten penalty units in fines.

    1. Obstructing traffic in NSW

    Under Australian laws, it is offensive to disrupt or cause any blockage to free-flowing movement or traffic. Section 6 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) describes an offence of obstructing any form of legal traffic either of persons, vehicles, vessels or any other movable material.

    This section considers it an offence where the accused person is intentional and occurred publicly. It is an offence that incurs four penalty units or alternative sentencing depending on the court findings.

    1. Unauthorised entry of vehicle or boat

    Section 6A of the Act describes an offence where a person enters a private or prohibited place without legal or reasonable excuse. It is a minor offence for a person to park or move their vehicle in an area they know to be restricted for certain people.

    It is an offence that attracts four penalty units.

    1. Damaging fountains in NSW

    It is considered a behavioural disorder to destroy public equipment or materials of municipalities. Section 7 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) prohibits any acts that cause a person to

    • Damage, destroy, deface
    • Break into,
    • Lead a material into a

    A fountain or similar recreational and public spectacle or equipment.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as four penalty units.

    1. Destroying or desecrating a protected place

    It is an offence to destroy or participate in any destructive activity in a public place. Some of these sites are described in subsection one as;

    • Interment/memorial sites
    • Protected place; shrines, statues,
    • War memorial sites

    A person who wilfully damages or defaces such places is guilty of an offence under section 8(3) of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW). The Offence of willfully damaging or defacing a protected area is guilty of a crime that attracts 40 penalty units.

    It is a criminal act for a person to commit offensive or derogatory actions to a public site. It is an offence that incurs as much as 20 penalty units.

    The court can also impose alternative sentencing instead of monetary-based fines. The subsection 3A of section 8 stipulates community correction orders subject to the Crimes (sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).

    1. Climbing or jumping from high buildings or other structures

    It is an offence to risk the safety of a person through any irresponsible and unlawful acts such as;

    • Abseiling, Jumping, Parachuting,
    • Climbing down or descending from a structure or building through any other means asides from the stairs, lifts
    • Or descending from any part of a high structure.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as ten penalty units, three months imprisonment, or both.

    It can be a defence to the charge, if the person can prove that they had a reasonable excuse for the action. For this section, a high structure can mean;

    • Bridge,
    • Crane,

    It does not include a structure fixed for the recreational purpose of jumping or moving around.

    1. Further intoxicated and disorderly behaviour after a "Move on direction"

    It is an offensive act for a person to re-offend in a disorderly manner within 6 hours of getting a “move on direction”.

    Section 9 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) lists the offence where the person gets a "moves on direction and gets intoxicated in a public place.

    It is an offence that attracts 15 penalty units.

    "Move on direction" by NSW Police Force

    The "move on direction" is an express command given by a Police officer following the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW). It means an order for a person to leave a public place.

    1. Possession of liquor

    It is an offence under section 11 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) for a person under 18 to be found in possession or to consume liquor (alcohol) in a public space.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as $20 in fines in normal circumstances. The accused may not be found guilty if they can prove that;

    • They were under being supervised by a responsible adult at the time,
    • They had solid and reasonable excuses for possessing and consuming the liquor.

    Subsection 2 section 11 authorises the Police officer or relevant personnel to seize the liquor if;

    • The minor was under 18 years at the time of offence,
    • The minor is not under the supervision of a responsible adult,
    • There is no reasonable and legal excuse for a person to possess the liquor

    Any liquor or substance the Police seizes in any such circumstance as described is forfeited to the Crown. Subsection 4 also allows the Police to seize liquor even when the person is under criminal responsibility.

    A police officer is also authorized under section 11(5A) to state their personal information, including;

    • Names,
    • Residential address,
    • Documentary evidence.

    Subsection 5B forbids the person from refusing to state such information requested without a lawful excuse.

    Refusing to disclose such information attracts a penalty as high as $20.

    1. Violent Disorder offence in NSW

    Section 11A of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) describes a more severe offence where three or more persons threaten to use violence. This section is a violent disorder where each or all of the people gathered (numbering at least 3) attempt or use unlawful behaviours or threats.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as ten penalty units in fines or six months imprisonment.

    It is immaterial that there were three or more persons that threatened the violence simultaneously.

    Will an Offensive Behaviour Offence in New South Wales (NSW) show up on a criminal background check certificate?

    If an individual is found guilty of an offensive behaviour offence in New South Wales (NSW), the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal history check.

    Individuals can obtain a police check via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1988-025

    Crimes Sentencing Procedure Act 1999 (NSW) - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1999-092

    Children (Community Service Orders) Act 1987 (NSW) - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-1987-056

    Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2002-103

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