Criminal offences in Queensland are divided into different classes depending on the level of seriousness of the offence. The Summary Offences Act (‘the Act’) provides a framework for a range of lesser, non-indictable offences. These are primarily implemented to keep the good order and deal with anti-social behaviour in public spaces.
The following offences allow police to deal with offenders who interfere with the right of others to enjoy public places.
Under the Act, it is an offence to be intoxicated in a public place also known as drunk and disorderly.
“Intoxicated” is defined to mean: “drunk or otherwise adversely affected by drugs or another intoxicating substance”.
Penalty for Public Intoxication
This offence carries a maximum penalty of 2 penalty units, or in other words, a fine of approximately $266 (with a penalty unit being worth around $133 as of July 2019).
Even though this offence is punishable by fine only, the matter may still be heard in Court before a Magistrate.
It is an offence under the Act to urinate in a public place.
Penalty for Urinating in A Public Place
The maximum penalty is a fine of around $266. If, however, the offence occurred within a licenced premise, or within the vicinity of a licenced premise, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of around $532.
Acts Which Can Constitute the Offence of Urinating in A Public Place
In a proceeding for an offence of this nature, it is evidence enough that liquid was seen to be discharged from the vicinity of a person’s pelvic area. That liquid doesn’t need to be found to be urine.
For example, an action of a person pouring a water bottle held near their genitals may still constitute the offence.
Other actions such as urinating in a park, behind a tree, or in a car park, will also constitute the offence of public urination.
Infringement Notices in place of Court Proceedings
Since 2010, police officers have been able to issue infringement notices for this charge to reduce the number of people appearing in Court. However, you should not assume you will receive a fine and not need to attend before the Court if charged with this offence.
It is at police discretion whether they will issue an infringement notice, instead of commencing prosecution.
It is an offence if a person wilfully exposes their genitals without a reasonable excuse:
This charge is commonly brought against:
Penalty for Wilful Exposure
The maximum penalty for this charge is a fine of around $266. However, if the offender exposed their genitals to offend or embarrass another person, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of around $5,320 or 1-year imprisonment.
Defence to Wilful Exposure
There is a defence a person can raise in certain circumstances for this charge. This defence is that the offender had “reasonable cause” to expose themselves.
For example, if an offender can prove that, in the case of urinating in public, there were no public toilet facilities available in the area, the defence may be successful.
It is an offence to solicit donations, beg, or have a child beg for money or goods in a public place.
This offence does not apply to individuals who are authorised by a charity to obtain donations or a person who is authorised by a local government to busk in a public place.
Penalty for Begging in A Public Place
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of around $1,330 or 6-months imprisonment.
Proper preparation is essential before the Court. Even though these charges may appear to be minor, they can still result in the Court recording a criminal conviction on an offender’s criminal history.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers regularly appear before Courts across QLD for these types of charges. If you are due to appear in Court, we offer a fixed fee to prepare for and represent you at the sentence.
Our criminal defence lawyers are always happy to discuss your matter. Feel free to contact our office for more information about your options or if you need representation in Court.
Proper experience appearing before the Court is essential. Aitken Whyte Lawyers are focused on results. Our Criminal Defence team will advise you on the proper course to take to speak with the police, prepare for Court, and achieve the best possible outcome.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers can assist you with all criminal matters.
If you want to know more about criminal law and offences, or speak to a solicitor about your situation and get advice and representation, call us on 07 5408 0655 .
Aitken Whyte Lawyers
11/8 Pikki Street,
Maroochydore Qld 4558
Ph: +617 5408 0655
Fax: +617 3211 9311