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Crimes and Defences in South Australia

Many criminal offences have been established in South Australia. Defences can be raised to each of them. Other than traffic offences, most crimes in South Australia are defined by the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935. Some categories of crime, like treason, are rarely prosecuted.

This article will acquaint you with the more common categories of crime in South Australia and defences that the law makes available.

Offences Against the Person

Crimes categorized as offences against the person tend to be crimes of violence or crimes that provoke fear. They include, for example:

These are crimes like riot and affray that involve violent acts or threats against society rather than individuals.

Offences against property

Crimes against property involve damage or misuse of another person’s property. They include, for example:

  • Arson
  • Recklessly endangering property
  • Using a motor vehicle without consent
  • Offences of dishonesty

Crimes in the dishonesty category usually involve taking the property of another person without consent or using deceit to harm another person. They include, for example:

  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Fraud and deception
  • Identity theft
  • Money laundering
  • Computer offences

Computer crimes generally involve the use of a computer to commit a crime (such as theft or fraud), gaining unauthorized access to computer data, modifying software or data without the owner’s permission, or introducing a virus or other damaging component into a computer.

Offences of a Public Nature

Crimes categorized as offences against the public are generally crimes against government, including the police. Examples include:

  • Impeding criminal investigations
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Perjury
  • Jury tampering
  • Bribery of public officials
  • Abuse of public office
  • Escape from custody

Other Offences

Other Categories of Crime include:

  • Criminal organizations
  • Cheating at gambling
  • Criminal trespass
  • BlackmailPiracy
  • Spiking (contaminating) food or beverages

General Defences

Any crime can be defended by arguing that the accusation is false, either because the crime did not happen or the accused has been mistaken for the true criminal. Crimes that require proof of a state of mind (such as proof that the accused acted intentionally) can be defended with evidence that the state of mind did not exist (such as evidence that harmful conduct was accidental rather than intentional).

The law establishes two additional defences that can be raised under certain circumstances.


As a general rule, if a drug or alcohol was administered to an accused without his or her consent, intoxication may be a defence. The defence is considerably more limited if the accused became intoxicated voluntarily.

Mental Competence

A person who suffers from brain damages or a severe mental disability may be incapable of committing certain crimes. In other cases, a person who suffers from a mental illness may not be competent to stand trial until the illness is resolved.

Choosing Your Defence

Every case is different. If you have been accused of a crime in South Australia and wonder what defences might be raised in your case, you should consult with a criminal defence lawyer.

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