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Disorderly behaviour offences

Disorderly behaviour

A person who, in a public place or a police station: behaves in a disorderly or offensive manner; or fights with another person; or uses offensive language; or disturbs the public peace, is guilty of an offence.

Disorderly or offensive behaviour includes riotous, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, for example, being abusive to others in the street or smashing beer bottles on the road.

Public place includes places with free access to the public, or which the public are addmitted to on payment of money, or roads, streets, thouroughfares etc that the public are allowed to use, even if they are on private property, and for the purpose of this section of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA), also includes any licensed premises or a ship or vessel.

Maximum penalty : $1 250 or 3 months imprisonment.

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 7(1) and 7(2)]

Violent disorder

It is an offence of violent disorder when three or more people present together use or threaten unlawful violence, and the conduct of them taken together would cause a person (of reasonable firmness) to fear their personal safety.

  • This offence may be committed in both private and public places.
  • A person must intend to use or threaten violence or is aware that his or her conduct may be violent or threaten violence.
  • Violence for the purposes of this offence can include violent conduct towards property as well as a person.

Maximum penalty: $10 000 or 2 years imprisonment.

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 6A]

Affray

A person has committed the offence of affray when they use or threaten violence towards another and their conduct would cause a person (of reasonable firmness) to fear for their personal safety.

This may involve more than one person, and when it does, the behaviour of all people is considered when determining its effect.

  • This offence can be committed in a public or private place.
  • A person must intend to use or violence or is aware that his or her conduct may be violent or threaten violence.
  • The threat here can not be made by words alone and must include conduct.
  • No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or likely to be, at the scene. This means, for example, that incidents captured on surveillance camera where no members of the public are present can still be prosecuted.

An example of an affray is a fight between two or more people with a level of violence that puts an innocent bystander in substantial fear (not just a passing concern) for their personal safety.

Maximum penalty:

Basic offence: 3 years imprisonment

Aggravated offence: 5 years imprisonment

[Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 83C]

Riot

The offence of Riot is committed when 12 or more people are present together and use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose, and that the conduct of them would cause a person (of reasonable firmness) present at the scene to fear their own personal safety.

  • This offence can be committed in a public or private place.
  • Common purpose can be inferred by conduct but the person needs to intend to use violence or is aware that their conduct may be violent.
  • No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or likely to be, at the scene.
  • A person must intend to use or violence or is aware that his or her conduct may be violent.
  • Violence for the purposes of this offence can include violent conduct towards property as well as a person.
  • If at trial a jury is not satisfied that the accused is guilty of this offence but is satisfied that the accused is guilty of the offence of Violent disorder under s6A of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA), they can bring in a guilty verdict of the lesser offence of Violent disorder.

Maximum penalty:

Basic offence: 7 years imprisonment

Aggravated offence: 10 years imprisonment

[Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 83B]

Disorderly behaviour offences  :  Last Revised: Fri Aug 1st 2014
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