If you are charged with an offence involving offensive language or offensive conduct, you should obtain legal advice immediately. These charges often turn on peculiar circumstances. Contact us for a free initial consultation.
The Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) sets out the offences of offensive conduct (section 4(1)) and offensive language (section 4A(1)). The elements are:
- Conducting oneself in an offensive manner; OR
- Using offensive language; AND
- Doing so in/near/within view of/within hearing of, a public place or school.
The maximum penalty for offensive conduct is a $660 fine or 3 months imprisonment. For offensive language, you can only get a fine of up to $660.
Offensive conduct is a contextual offence which means the court will have to base it on circumstances. It is broad in nature and often used when there is no specific offence that can be used for prosecution. Offences that fall into this category are anti-social behaviours, assault and verbal abuse.
Offensive in legal terms means any behaviour that will hurt the feelings and cause a sense of revulsion or anger in a sane, reasonable person.
In addition to being prosecuted, police can charge you with a penalty on the spot. However, you can dispute it in court. Offensive language alone is not sufficient for you to be liable for offensive conduct.
Examples of offensive conduct are having sex in public places, getting involved in fights and using foul language in a public park.
A public place is “a place or a part of a place that is open to, or used by, the public” and includes places into which only certain sections of the public may enter, or which require an entry fee.
Circumstances where the behaviour occurs are important in order to understand the “offensive conduct” committed. The prosecution must prove your intent to cause the offence, and this is why you need to have a competent lawyer to help you with the charges. They need to prove you intentionally cause the offence knowing that it will cause hurt, rage or disgust.
As such, it is important to obtain legal advice to maximise your chances of a good outcome at Court.
A defence lawyer will show the court that you have a valid reason for your behaviour. Such a lawyer will also prove that the specific behaviour is not offensive under criminal law. When you are charged with offensive conduct, make sure to talk to your lawyer first.
If you are seeking legal advice, contact us for a free initial consultation. We, the Mardini Defence Lawyers, are available 24 hours to help you. Call us on 0412-719-405.