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What Offences Are Considered an Absolute Liability Offence in Australia?

In Australia, there are different categories of criminal offences which can affect the way your case is handled by the courts, even before charges are laid.

Two of these categories are ‘absolute liability offences’ and ‘strict liability offences’.
While there are differences between the two, both of these offences have one important feature in common: if you are charged with either one, the prosecution is not required to prove that the accused intended to commit the crime.

This is because these offences are considered crimes against public policy rather than being inherently morally wrong.

Here, our lawyers explain what an absolute liability offence is in Australia as well as some common absolute liability offences.


What is an Absolute Liability Offence?

If someone is charged with an absolute liability offence, the prosecution does not need to prove any fault of mens rea (guilty mind) on the part of the accused – only that the illegal act was committed.

This means that even if the accused did not know that they were breaking the law or had no intention of doing so, they can still be found guilty.

While this standard also applies to strict liability offences, the difference is that if you are charged with a strict liability offence, you may be able to use an ‘honest and reasonable mistake of fact’ defence, whereas this defence is unavailable if you are charged with an absolute liability offence.


What are Some Common Absolute Liability Offences?

Some common examples of absolute liability offences include:

  • Drink driving
  • Drug driving
  • Dangerous driving
  • Being an accessory to a crime after the fact

However, there are a wide variety of absolute and strict liability offences spanning many areas of law including:

  • Work health and safety
  • Counter-terrorism and national security
  • Environmental regulation
  • Corporate or commercial regulation.

While the penalties for these offences vary, they can all result in a fine or imprisonment. If you have been charged with an absolute or strict liability offence, it is important that you seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible.


Need Help with an Absolute Liability Offence in Australia?

If you have been charged with an absolute liability or strict liability offence, it is important to seek legal advice immediately.

At Guest Lawyers, our team of Brisbane criminal lawyers are licensed to practice across Australia and often travel to other states and territories to do so. If you would like to discuss an appropriate defence for an absolute liability offence, get in touch with our lawyers either via Guest Lawyers’ email or by calling (07) 3211 3007.

We offer initial consultations (including in prisons) to assist with a number of assault charges, and act for all persons required to appear before the Magistrates and Supreme Court. We also conduct appeals in the Court of Appeal and High Court.