Public Order Offences

Public Order Offences

The two most common offences associated with group public disorder are Riot and Affray, found under the Crimes Act 1990.
Both these offences can take place in a public and a private space.
Section 93D of the Crimes Act establishes the mental element required to be charged each offence:

  • A person is guilty of riot only if the person intends to use violence or is aware that his or her conduct may be violent.
  • A person is guilty of affray only if the person intends to use or threaten violence or is aware that his or her conduct may be violent or threaten violence.
  • Affray is a broader offence to Riot, and an individual may be charged if they are reckless in considering their conduct may be violent or threatening.

 

Riot

Riot is found under s 93B of the Crimes Act.
To be charged with Riot, 12 or more people who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose.  The conduct of them (taken together) would likely cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety.
Each person using violence for a common purpose is guilty of riot and liable to imprisonment for 15 years.

Additionally:

  • It is immaterial whether or not the 12 or more persons use or threaten unlawful violence simultaneously.
  • The common purpose may be inferred from conduct
  • No person of reasonable firmness (mentally sound) needs to be present for a charge of riot to be inflicted.

Riot Example:

Tom and 5 of his friends are down at the beach on a hot summer day. They have been there for a few hours, when John and 7 of his friends show up, sitting nearby.
John and his friends are noisy, sit very close to Tom and his friends, they are rowdy and the sand that is flying around disturbs Tom and his friends sitting nearby. Tom asks John and his friends to settle down.
John gets very angry at being told what to do, and starts to verbally abuse Tim. Tom’s friends all gather around for support, and John’s friends start to notice a scene is being made. They join in to support John. One of John’s friends throws himself at Tom to try and scare him away.
The 14 boys in total get into a fight, and each is charged with Riot.

 

Affray

Affray is found under s93C of the Crimes Act. To be charged with Affray, a person who uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another, and whose conduct would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety.
There must be 2 or more people demonstrating unlawful conduct for a charge of Affray to be laid.
A person guilty of such an offence is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

Additionally:

  • This threat of unlawful violence cannot be made by words alone.
  • No person of reasonable firmness (mentally sound) needs to be present for a charge of riot to be inflicted.

Affray Example:

Paul is standing outside a bar smoking. Josh, who has been drinking heavily for a few hours stumbles outside and falls into Paul.
Paul angrily tells Josh to ‘watch where he’s going’. Josh takes this offensively, and tries to swing at Paul. Paul reacts and tries to fight back.
A security guard steps in to prevent the boys from continuing to fight. Both are charged with affray.

Often, Affray charges are laid where there is difficulty in establishing an offence of assault has taken place.
Where the specific acts of assault cannot be identified, Affray is an alternative conviction.

If you have any issues with public order offences, call ETB Legal for assistance (02) 9188 9669 or Mobile: 0412 915 247.

 

Don’t wait another minute to get the legal representation you need. Call the Sydney criminal lawyers who can help. Your first conference is free. Call 0412 915 247 today.

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