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

Offensive Behaviour Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.


The Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) lists certain crimes leading to minor sentences and punishments in the Northern Territory (NT). For these offences, a court hearing may not be necessary to punish the offender; the Police may issue on the spot fines based on their respective codes and conducts.

A charge for offensive behaviours is most likely heard summarily in a Magistrate court (lesser courts) irrespective of the jurisdiction. If they are heard in higher courts, they will be treated summarily.

If an individual is convicted in a Northern Territory court for an Offensive Behaviour offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a police check.

Punishments for Offensive Behaviours

The Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) lists several punishments for any person found guilty of offensive behaviour. These punishments are usually deterrents and corrective measures to all individuals.

The court deems it necessary to impose a community order instead of a fine or imprisonment term. This is the case where the court feels a sentencing or prison term will be an extreme measure for the individual.

The punishments for offensive behaviours vary depending on the type or severity of the offence;

Offences against public order

Various actions can constitute a public order offence, and these have varying descriptions and punishments.


  1. General Offences against Public Order

Offences against public orders include where the person behaved reproachfully in a public or visible space, including;

Malls, nightclubs, strips, parks, markets, and co.

People charged with these offences are often intoxicated or "high" on any other substances. It can be helpful to the defence request for footage from a body cam or CCTV recordings about the incident.


  1. Forcible Entry

It is a criminal misdemeanor for a person to enter a premises illegally or without a legal reason to "break-in". It is an offence against the breach of peace, and the person is guilty of a crime.

The court can impose up to 12 months imprisonment for such offences.


  1. Forcible possession

It is offensive for a person to be in unlawful possession of illegally detained material. A person who forcefully holds on to a legal entity without being the official beneficiary is guilty of an offence. It is an offence that incurs 12 months imprisonment.


  1. Disturbing Religious worship

It is a crime for a person to wilfully and without legal reason;

  • Interrupt or obstruct a meeting of lawfully assembled people,
  • Assaults a person officiating such meeting
  • It is a serious offence that incurs as much as six months of imprisonment.

  1. Offensive conduct and actions

A person is guilty of offensive or disorderly conduct under section 47 of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) if they;

  • Disturb the peace of the security in any form,
  • Are involved in any riotous or destructive movement,
  • Unreasonably affected the privacy of another,
  • Carried about offensive behaviours within a dwelling.

It is an offensive act that incurs as much as

  • $2,000 in fine and/or
  • Six months imprisonment
  • Or both

  1. Violent Disorder

Any person the court finds guilty of this offence if;

  • The person engages (while in a group) in destructive conduct,
  • It causes a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their lives,

And

  • The accused knows such conduct to be harmful and violent towards another,
  • Is reckless to the nature of the Act and knows it will be violent.

It is an offence that incurs a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment.


  1. Threatening Violence

It is an offense for a person to intimidate or scare another person through threats or attempts at violence. It also includes where a person intends to be vengeful towards property or creation/property.

Section 47AB of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) punishes such offences with as much as 12 months imprisonment. And if the crime is committed at night-time, it incurs up to 2 years imprisonment.


  1. Loitering by sexual offender

A person convicted of;

  • an initial sexual crime in any form or.
  • Any offences under section 50 of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT).

Must not be found Loitering or idling around specific areas as listed in the law. Some of these prohibited areas for sexual offenders include;

  • School, kindergarten or child care centre
  • Public place or park, or an area where children will likely be found

Any sexual offender guilty of loitering around such areas is guilty of a crime that incurs $5000 in fine amounts or two years imprisonment.

General offence of Loitering

It is an illegal act for a person to Loiter without making a good account of himself when requested by a Police officer. It is a minor offence incurring as much as $2000 in fine amounts and/or six months imprisonment.

Illegal Use of Vehicles

It is an offence to tamper or operate a vehicle without the consent of the owner or legal user. A vehicle for this section means;

  • Moving animal or machine for conveying people/goods
  • Car, motorbikes, engined-boats,

It is a minor offence that incurs penalties of $1 000 in fine amounts or six months imprisonment.

Offence of Indecent exposure

It is a misdemeanour for a person to go against the acceptable and stipulated standards for decency by dressing indecently. A person found guilty of such offence is liable to punishment of

  • $2,000 in fines and/or
  • Six months imprisonment, or
  • Both.

Undue Noises

Section 53B of the Summary Offences Act 1923 (NT) punishes a disregard for a Police officer's direction against undue noise. It is an offence incurring as much as $2000 in fines.

Riot and unlawful assembly

Offences of disorderly behaviour may quickly transform to riot if the court agrees that the conditions for such are present.

Where a person, along with two orders, engages in disorderly behaviour, section 63 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) stipulates penalties up to one-year imprisonment.

However, it is a serious offence if the riotous gathering consists of 12 or more people. The punishments may rise over 14 years imprisonment.

Offences against Law Enforcers

The Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) considers it an offence for a person to assault, resist, or obstruct a Police officer or authorised person acting under the law. These offences are usually serious in courts and attract severe penalties.

  • Assaulting a Police officer

Punishments for assaulting a Police can vary depending on the consequences of the action. Section 189A of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) stipulates penalties reaching up to 16 years imprisonment, especially if the officer suffers serious harm.

However, it is a punishment of 7 years imprisonment for minor harm done to the officer. It is an offence that incurs up to 2 years imprisonment for other cases.

  • Resist Police

Obstructing or preventing Police from carrying out their legal duties is an offence under the law. Section 158 of the Police Administration Act 1978 (NT) describes circumstances that constitute a person resisting a Police.

Section 121 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) stipulates penalties of up to 2 years imprisonment.

Will an Offensive Behaviour Offence show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate?

If an individual is found guilty of an offensive behaviour offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police check.

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

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