From state to state in Australia, public nuisance offences are handled very differently by police and the courts. Find out how a public nuisance offence is dealt with in Queensland below.
What is Considered Public Nuisance?
As per section 6 of the Summary Offences Act, a person commits a public nuisance offence if their behaviour is both:
- Disorderly, offensive, threatening or violent;
- Interfering with, or likely to interfere with, a person’s peaceful passage through, or enjoyment of, a public space.
Section 6 also states that offensive behaviour includes the use of offensive or abusive language, and that a police officer does not need to receive a complaint from a member of the public before taking action.
Penalties for Public Nuisance in Queensland
It is stated in section 6 of the Summary Offences Act that the maximum penalty for public nuisance in Queensland is 10 penalty units (which equates to a fine of $5,200) or 6 months’ imprisonment. However, fines for public nuisance vary greatly from state to state, with Western Australia having fines of up to $12,000 for particular public nuisance offences like threatening violence.
What Police Officers Will Do
As of the 8th of November 2010, Queensland police officers have been allowed to issue infringement notices for the following offences;
- Public nuisance;
- Public urination;
- Obstructing a police officer (in relation to the public nuisance or public urination offence); and
- Contravening requirements of a police officer (in relation to stating correct name and address re above).
This follows an effort to reduce the number of people appearing in court for public nuisance offences. With the new system of infringement notices, if an offender chooses to pay their infringement notice fine, there is no requirement to appear in court (unless a person decides to contest the infringement notice) and no criminal history is recorded.
Alternative Charges for Public Nuisance
Because public nuisance charges can encompass a wide range of offences, it is also possible than an offender could be charged with one of the following;
- Wilful exposure (fine of up to $5,222, or up to 1 year imprisonment)
- Drunk in a public place (fine of $260)
- Consuming liquor in a public place (fine of $130)
- Contravene a direction or requirement of a police officer (fine of up to $7,833)
It is also possible for a person to be charged for more serious offences, such as assault or wilful damage, which will almost certainly require a court appearance.
Needing Legal Advice?
Guest Lawyers offers free initial consultations (including in prisons) to advise how our Brisbane lawyers can best help you. We act for all persons charged with criminal offences who are required to appear before the Magistrates, District and Supreme Court. We also conduct appeals in the Court of Appeal and High Court.
In addition to representing people all over Queensland, we often travel to other states and territories. Our Brisbane lawyers are admitted to practice all over Australia. For legal assistance, please get in touch with us either via email or by calling (07) 3211 3007.