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Riots are usually classified under public disorders and marked by disturbance to peace, threats to life and destruction to property. For this, any movement or gathering that may lead to rioting is curbed and vehemently opposed in South Australia.
The South Australian law authorises the Police and other statutory law enforcement authorities to use appropriate force when necessary to prevent or quell an uncontrolled movement/gathering.
If an individual is convicted in a South Australian court for a riot offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national police record check in South Australia.
The offence will be disclosed on a criminal history check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme legislation in South Australia.
Although riots are considered random, haphazard and destructive gatherings or actions, the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) provides technical descriptions.
Section 83B of the Act describes a Riot as;
A gathering of 12 or more people for a common purpose that includes any/all of;
It also includes conditions where any of these actions will constitute reasonable fear for life to any person. It does not matter that the group intended or recklessly caused any violence or destruction from a mob.
Subsections 1 – 8 of section 83B of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) lists other special conditions for Riots in South Australia.
Penalty for Riot offences in SA
A Court hearing for riot offences leads to individual sentencing even if the offence occurs in a gathering or group. Every participant in the riot or mob will be sentenced individually.
The maximum penalty for a riot offence is seven years imprisonment for a primary offence. However, with a circumstance of aggravation, the sentence can increase to 10 years imprisonment.
The Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) describes an offence of violent disorder where three or more people are gathered for a common purpose to;
The court still considers it a matter of violent disorder even if there is no reasonable firmness present at the scene. However, all three (or more) of the group must be present for their actions to constitute a violent disorder under the law.
The offence of Violent disorder includes any of these actions either to a person or property.
Penalties for Violent Disorder
A person found guilty of violent disorder faces penalties up to 2 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 in fines.
An affray charge is levelled where a person engages in conduct, action or supports any of such that would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear. An affray offence includes where the accused person threatens or uses violence in a place that is regarded as public.
An affray offence is usually dealt with summarily in SA in a Magistrate court unless the court prescribes an imprisonment term of more than two years. The person must be sentenced in a District or higher court for that case.
Penalties for an Affray offence in SA
An affray offence is a serious offence and may even lead to a chain of events leading to grievous offences like murder, death and manslaughter. Affray offences incur a minimum of 3 years imprisonment for a primary offence and five years imprisonment for aggravating circumstances to the offence.
Many actions can constitute a case of disorderly behaviour offence in SA. All matters relating to disorderly behaviours are handled by the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s7(1)(2).
Some examples of disorderly behaviours in Southern Australia include;
Penalty for disorderly behaviour in SA
The charge of Disorderly behaviour is usually handled summarily in a Magistrate Court. It is an offence that incurs;
If the court considers such behaviour to be influenced by a group or to have a common purpose, it may be tried as a riot offence.
Although it is not an offence to be drunk in a public space, the Police may take necessary steps to stop them from causing any nuisance. The Public Intoxication Act 1984 (SA) provides several options to the Police or other authorised agencies to ensure the safety of the vicinity/ people and the drunk person.
The Police can;
The Act allows the police to use reasonable force to search or secure dangerous objects or materials.
The “taking into custody’ does not translate to an arrest.
The drunk person cannot remain at a Police station for more than 12 hours. They can even be released sooner if they get sober earlier.
People can become paranoid if they find a person indiscriminately waiting, standing, scaling or monitoring them. Generally, it becomes difficult for other people if a person loiters or moves about in a premises without sufficient and legal reasons.
Also, it may be in the interests of the State or vicinity to stop people from loitering to prevent other disorderly actions.
To quell a loitering offence, the police can make a reasonable excuse that;
The Police or any authorised officer can use the appropriate force to stop loitering. It is an offence to disregard or disobey a Police request to stop loitering.
The Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) and other legal guides provide accurate descriptions for most of these offensive acts for clarity and efficiency in a legal process.
It is a “Disorderly behaviour” to behave in an obscene, immoral, uncouth or uncivil manner in a public space or Police station. Some examples of disorderly behaviours are;
Section 83A of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) describes violence as the action or intent to cause unlawful damage or destruction to property or aimed towards a person. It also includes where the accused person used violent conduct to achieve the aim.
For this section, the actions include;
It also includes where any of these intended actions fall short of injuring the person.
There is little a person charged for riot can do to defend themselves, especially without legal counsel. However, the court may absolve the person of the actions if they can prove that;
If an individual is found guilty of a Riot offence in South Australia (SA), the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal background check.
Individuals can obtain a criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.
Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) - https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/lz?path=%2FC%2FA%2FCRIMINAL%20LAW%20CONSOLIDATION%20ACT%201935
Summary Offences Act 1952 (SA) - https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/lz?path=%2Fc%2Fa%2Fsummary%20offences%20act%201953
Public Intoxication Act 1984 (SA) - https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/lz?path=%2FC%2FA%2FPublic%20Intoxication%20Act%201984
Legal Services Commission South Australia (Common Offences) - https://lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/print/ch12s06.php
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