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Indecency offences

Indecent language

It is an offence to use language that is indecent or profane, or to sing indecent or profane songs in a public place, a police station; or which can be heard from a public place or neighbouring property.

It is also an offence to use language that is indecent or profane, or to sing indecent or profane songs in any place if you intend to offend or insult any person.

Language is indecent if it is highly offensive to the recognised standards of common propriety. This offence is not designed for the special protection of those who are easily shocked.

Maximum penalty: $250

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 22]

Indecent behaviour

A person who behaves in an indecent manner in a public place, while visible from a public place, or in a police station; or so as to offend or insult anyone is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty: $1 250 or 3 months imprisonment

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 23(1)]

An example of this sort of behaviour is indecently exposing oneself in a public place. However, it is not an offence to be naked in an area, or in waters adjacent to an area, reserved for nude bathing [Summary Offences Act 1953 s 23A].

Gross indecency

A person who, in a public place or while visible from a public place or from occupied premises, wilfully does a grossly indecent act, whether alone or with another person, is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty: $2 500 or 6 months imprisonment

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 23(2)]

For offences of gross indecency in the presence of a person aged under the age of 16 years, see SEXUAL OFFENCES]

Indecent filming

It is an offence to film another person in a state of undress in circumstances in which a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy [see Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 26D(1)].

It is a defence to a charge of indecent filming if either of the following can be established:

  • the filming occurred with the consent of the person filmed; or
  • it was undertaken by a licenced investigation agent in the course of obtaining evidence in connection with a claim for compensation, damages, a payment under a contract or some other benefit.

Consent will not be effective if given by a person under the age of 17 or with a cognitive impairment, or if obtained from a person by duress or deception [see s 26E(1)].

Maximum penalty:

Where the person filmed was under the age of 17 - $20 000 or 4 years imprisonment; in any other case - $10 000 or 2 years imprisonment.

It is a further offence for a person to distribute images obtained by indecent filming [see s 26D(3)].

It is a defence if one or more of the following can be proved that:

  • the person filmed consented to that particular distribution of the image; or
  • the person filmed consented to distribution of the image generally; or
  • the defendant did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that the indecent filming was without the person's consent; or
  • that the indecent filming was undertaken by a licenced investigation agent in the course of obtaining evidence in connection wtih a claim for compensation, damages, a payment under a contract or some other benefit.

Maximum penalty:

Where the person filmed was under the age of 17 - $20 000 or 4 years imprisonment; in any other case - $10 000 or 2 years imprisonment.

See also Pornography - Distribution of invasive images.

Indecency offences  :  Last Revised: Fri Aug 15th 2014
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