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  • Trespass Offences and Penalties in Queensland (QLD)

    The general definition of Trespassing means being in a place where you have no permission or licence to be there. It also includes any unlawful conduct you carried out or oversaw while illegitimately entering the building.

    It is an offence in any circumstance for a person to trespass, especially by remaining in an area or property after they are requested to leave. The Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld) describes all forms and examples of minor offences, including actions and circumstances.

    If an individual is convicted in QLD court for a Trespass offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in QLD.

    What is a Trespass offence under the law?

    Section 11 of the Summary Offence Act 2005 (Qld) describes Trespassing to be where;

    A person who without consent from the legal authority or personnel;

    • Enters into a property,
    • Remains in a dwelling,
    • Stays in a place relating to the property after being requested to leave1

    It is also trespassing if any of these behaviours happened in a place used for a business purpose. It is punishable by up to 20 penalty units in fine amounts and 1-year imprisonment.

    Regarding legal officers

    The trespassing description or conditions set in section 11 does not in any way prevent lawful industrial officers from entering or remaining in the area. The officer or lawful personnel can stay in the place as per the conditions and terms of their appointments.

    Unlawful driving a motorbike in public land

    Section 11A describes an offence where a person knowingly drives or controls their motorbike into public land or an area not suitable for that purpose. The person commits a crime through this intentional act or contravening the local law relating to such areas.

    Such an offence attracts as much as 20 penalty units under the normal laws. However, it may be an excuse in court if a person has a reasonable excuse to drive into such territory with the motorbike.

    Where the rider is required to possess a stated authority

    If the Local law requests riders of motorbikes to have specific permits or licenses to operate their motorbike in such an area, it is an offence not to. The offence of not possessing the legal documents required to ride is punishable by 20 penalty units.

    Failure to Produce the stated documents

    If a Police officer requests to see any of such permits (for the rider in such an area) and the rider cannot produce them, they will be liable for fines up to 20 penalty units.

    For this section, a motorbike is also a four-wheeled vehicle operated similarly to a motorbike. More definitions are given according to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld).

    Public land for this section includes any land as defined by regulations or local law and does not include a road.

    Unlawfully gathering in a building or structure.

    Section 12 of the Act describes an offence where two or more people unlawfully enter;

    • Any part of a structure, business or property especially used for business,

    Or

    • Any land occupied or used in connection with a public building, structure, or business porpoises.
    • It includes where the group/gathering stubbornly remains in a property or any land used connected with the property or business.

    Where the court finds the gathering guilty of such an offence of Trespassing, it will issue punishments to each member of the group, reaching ten penalty units or five months imprisonment.

    It is still a trespassing offence of remaining on the building or property by the group even if;

    • ✔ They entered the premises lawfully,
    • ✔ Entered into the property with the consent of the owner, and
    • ✔ Refused to leave the premises on the lawful request of the owner legal authority of such property.

    Disorderly behaviour in a building

    It is offensive for a person who unlawfully enters a building to behave in a manner that would further breach public peace. It includes where the person uses languages or behaves irrationally that would breach public peace in the area.

    The offence of disorderly behaviour while Trespassing is a punishment of 10 penalty units or six months imprisonment.

    However, this section does not affect any authorised person or worker under legal authority from entering the workplace. The person can easily prove this by showing their appointments or warrants for being in such areas.

    Unlawfully entering or remaining in a particular land

    Section 13 of the Act prohibits a person from unlawfully entering or remaining in land or property used for;

    • Agriculture or related activities,
    • Animal rearing husbandry, ranching and similar activities
    • Holding facility for agricultural produces or materials
    • Food processing or other production facilities
    • Where animals are exhibited

    Anyone guilty of such offence is liable for punishments reaching 20 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment.

    It is also a violation of the Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld) if the person enters the land lawfully but refuses to leave at the request of the owner/legal authority.

    Subsection 3 of s13 also prohibits a person from exposing any part of the facility to the public entrance. This section includes cases where the accused person;

    • Leaves open a gate,
    • Carves an illegal part,
    • Unlocks any part of the fence or things that make such an area enclosed.

    It attracts as much as ten penalty units in fines or six months imprisonment terms.

    This section does not include a person authorised by the agency or the industry under special terms or conditions. It includes where the company has special laws or provisions for such workers to enter the place. For this case, the worker/personnel must adhere to all the conditions of these special terms/agreements.

    Some of the terms used in this section refer to common scenarios in Agriculture but are termed in court proceedings.

    Agricultural activity in this section means;

    • Cultivating the soil,
    • Planting, harvesting or gathering the crops
    • Horticulture, pastoral or arable forms of farming

    Unregulated activities

    It is an offence that borders on Trespassing for a person to;

    • Parachute or hang-glide into another’s building or structure
    • BASE-jump or hang-glide from a building,
    • Abseil from a building or structure

    It is an offence that attracts 20 penalty units or up to 1-year imprisonment.

    Unlawful assembly

    Section 10A of the Act prohibits a gathering of more than three or more people for a common purpose if it includes;

    • Causing reasonable people to fear that violence will occur, or
    • Poses some form of risks to a person's health in the area or any other dangers to animals.
    • Threatens attempts or disturbs the operation of a business.

    It attracts punishments up to 2 years imprisonment, but not less than a one-year term.

    For this charge, it is immaterial in court that;

    • the original assembly was lawful,
    • The common purpose of the gathering did not include violence,
    • That there was a person in the neighbourhood to fear for the actions.

    Defences to a Trespass charge

    Most Trespassing charges are summary offences that are heard before a Magistrate court. And if heard in a higher court, the matter is handled summarily. A Police officer may also, following their "code of conducts/legislation", issue a warning, fine or other forms of on-the-spot punishments for lesser offences.

    A charge for a trespass offence is usually not severe and doesn't mostly lead to penalty or sentencing. However, it is better to avoid a conviction for any crime if you can.

    A person can assume various legal defences when responding to a charge for a trespass offence.

    The offender can claim that;


    They were not on the property

    If the accused person can successfully prove that;

    • It was a case of mistaken identity, or
    • They were not on the property,

    The court ultimately absolve them of any wrongdoing. However, this can only work if the accused has a strong alibi or witness to corroborate their claims.


    Had the permission to be on the property

    The accused can escape a conviction for a trespassing offence if they can prove that they had the authorisation to be there. It includes evidence of the legal owner inviting the accused person to the premises.


    Mistake of fact

    An accused person can also reasonably claim that they were mistaken about the ownership of the property. And through evidence may claim that they reasonably thought wrongly about the right or privacy of such property.


    Other defences could be that;

    • The accused was lost and found themselves on the property. Although they must provide a valid ID when requested to do so,
    • They stumbled on the property by accident and were willing to leave,
    • They were reasonably mistaken as to the boundary of the property.

    Will a Trespass Offence in QLD show up on a national criminal background check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a trespass offence in QLD, 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 online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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