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Public Order Offences SA

Public order offences can most easily be described as offences that disrupt the reasonable peace of the public. Offences under this section generally have the ability to affect, or are likely to have the ability to affect, other people in a way that may harm, endanger, offend, disrupt or annoy them.

Besides the three below listed offences, most other public order offences are dealt with summarily, under the Summary Offences Act 1953, which generally means that they are on the lower end of the seriousness scale; however, may still carry a jail sentence.

Affray

Under Section 83C of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, A person is guilty of affray if they deliberately use, or threaten to use, unlawful violence against another person, which causes a person, or people, present (defined as a person of reasonable firmness; in layman’s terms, a reliable witness) to fear for their personal safety. This does not include the use of verbal threats alone.

A good example of affray is a street fight between two people, where an onlooker feels as though their personal safety is at stake. An affray may occur in a private or a public place, and the person/s of reasonable firmness does not have to be present at the scene.

For a basic offence, a person found guilty of this offence is liable to imprisonment for 3 years.
For an aggravated offence, a person found guilty of this offence is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

Prostitution

Under Section 25 of the Summary Offences Act 1953, a person who, in a public place, or within viewing or hearing distance of somebody in a public place, solicits or accosts another person for the purpose of prostitution, is guilty of an offence. This also applies if a person is loitering in a public place for the purpose of prostitution.

A person found guilty of this offence will receive a maximum penalty of $750.

Riot

Under Section 83C of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, a riot is defined as 12 or more people who are using or threatening unlawful violence, and whose conduct, as a group, would cause fear towards the personal safety of other people present (persons of reasonable firmness). The 12 or more people must be present at the scene, which may be a public or private location, and it does not matter whether or not the riot group threaten unlawful violence simultaneously. As with affray, the person/s of reasonable firmness does not have to be present at the scene.

For a basic offence, a person found guilty of this offence is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
For an aggravated offence, a person found guilty of this offence is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

Violent Disorder

Under section 6A of the Summary Offences Act 1953, violent disorder occurs where three or more people are using or threatening unlawful violence, and whose conduct, as a group, would cause fear towards the personal safety of other people present (persons of reasonable firmness).

All three (or more) offenders must be present at the scene; however, the person of reasonable firmness need not be present. Violent disorder may be directed towards property (such as, damage to a vehicle with a baseball bat), and as long as the actions of the offenders cause fear towards the personal safety of others, the offence is punishable.

A person found guilty of violent disorder is liable to imprisonment for 2 years, and/or a maximum fine of $10 000. 

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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