Regulatory Offences in Queensland

Regulatory Offences in Queensland

Aitken Whyte Lawyers Sunshine Coast


Regulatory Offences – Unauthorised Dealing with Shop Goods; UTAG; Leaving A Hotel Without Payment; And Unauthorised Damage to Property

Criminal offences in Queensland are divided into different classes depending on the level of seriousness of the offence. The pieces of legislation covering most of Queensland’s crimes and offences are:

  • the Criminal Code;
  • the Drugs Misuse Act; and
  • the Summary Offences Act.

However, there are a set of more specific minor offences, also known as “regulatory offences”, particularised in the Regulatory Offences Act.


Regulatory Offences Generally

A regulatory offence is deemed to be less serious than most other charges in Queensland. As a result, they carry lesser penalties.

Heard in The Magistrates Court – Penalty

Regulatory offences must be finalised in the Magistrates Court before a Magistrate.

The maximum penalty for regulatory offences is a fine. A Court can still record a conviction for this type of offence, which people take seriously in many settings.

Under the Act, a Magistrate has the power to fine an offender an additional amount than otherwise prescribed by legislation in circumstances where appropriate.

Regulatory offences will also appear on a person’s criminal history.

If the police have charged you with any of the following offences, you should seek legal representation to ensure you present your matter appropriately to the Court.


Unauthorised Dealing with Shop Goods – UTAG

Any person who, with respect to goods in a shop of a value of $150 or less –

  1. consumes them without the consent of the person in lawful possession of them (i.e., the owner of the shop); or
  2. alters, removes, defaces or otherwise makes indistinguishable a price shown on them; or
  3. takes goods away without attempting honestly to make arrangements to discharge their indebtedness (in other words, fails to pay for the item)

is guilty of this offence and is liable to a fine of 6 penalty units.

As of July 2019, a penalty unit in Queensland is $133.45. This means the fine an offender would receive for taking an item worth $150 or less, can be up to $800.

The definition of “shop” also extends to a petrol station and “goods” includes any substance in liquid or gaseous form, meaning the law classifies taking petrol as an offence under this section.

Other common actions include:

  • shoplifting;
  • changing or removing price tags; and
  • consuming food or drink without paying (or “dine and dash”).

Alternate Charge to Stealing

The more serious version of this charge is the offence of “stealing”.

If you are facing a stealing offence but believe the value of the item stolen is less than $150, it may be possible to have the charge against you downgraded. Contact us to discuss whether we can negotiate your charge to one of unauthorised dealing with shop goods.


Leaving A Hotel Etc. Without Payment

Any person who, in relation to food, drink, accommodation, or like goods and services, of the value of $150 or less, obtained from any restaurant or hotel, motel, boarding house or like premises—

  1. leaves such premises without discharging, or attempting honestly, or making proper arrangements, to discharge, their indebtedness therefor (in other words, fails to pay for the item or hotel room); or
  2. purports to pay for them with a cheque that does not clear, or a credit card or similar document the person is not authorised to use;

is guilty of this offence and is liable to a fine of $300.

Possible Defence

There is a defence to part b. of this charge above.

An offender can raise this defence and plead not guilty to the charge if they believed on reasonable grounds that:

  • the cheque would be paid in full on presentation; or
  • they were authorised to use the card for payment.


Alternate Charge to Fraud

In more serious circumstances, this charge can amount to fraud.

In the alternative, if the police have charged you with a fraud offence but the circumstances are more like that of leaving a hotel without payment, you may be able to negotiate the charge. Contact us to discuss your options and whether we can make submissions to have the charge downgraded.


Unauthorised Damage to Property

Any person who willfully destroys or damages the property of another, without that person’s consent, and causes a loss of $250 or less, is guilty of this offence.

The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to $500. However, a Magistrate has further power under the law to fine an additional amount including the costs of bringing and investigating the charge, and the cost of compensating any person injured as a result of the offending.

Alternate Charge to Wilful Damage

This is a less serious alternative to the charge of “wilful damage”.

If the police have charged you with the offence of wilful damage, there may be room to negotiate it down. We can discuss with you whether it is likely your charge could be downgraded to one of unauthorised damage to property.

Wilful damage carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, although this can be greater in special circumstances.


Appearing in Court – Here to Help

Proper experience appearing before the Court for regulatory offences 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 .

Office Location and Contact Details

Sunshine Coast

Aitken Whyte Lawyers
11/8 Pikki Street,
Maroochydore Qld 4558
Ph: +617 5408 0655
Fax: +617 3211 9311
Email Us


Aitken Whyte Lawyers
11/8 Pikki Street,
Maroochydore Qld 4558

T: 07 5408 0655

Email Us


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Lawyers for Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Buderim, Noosa, Nambour and Caloundra, Queensland, Australia.