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Violent disorder

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW it is an offence to be in a group of three or more people who use or threaten to use violence. The actions of the group taken as a whole must be such that an ordinary person would fear for their safety.

A person can be charged with this offence if they are one of three or more people who are acting in a way that would cause others to fear for their safety. You can be charged with the offence whether it is you that threatens to use violence or uses violence, or whether you are merely present within a group that does.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 6 months imprisonment or 10 penalty units.


THE OFFENCE OF VOILENT DISORDER:

The offence of Violent Disorder is contained in section 11A(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) and states:

If 3 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety, each of the persons using or threatening unlawful violence is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE VIOLENT DISORDER?

Examples of Violent Disorder include:

  • Walking through a shopping mall with two other men who are yelling intimidating and threatening things at shoppers including, "I’m going to smash ya" and, "I'll kill you if you don't get out of our way!";
  • Participating in a protest that has turned violent; and
  • Walking through the streets with two other friends and smashing beer bottles and shoving passers by.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE:

To convict you of Violent Disorder the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you were present together with two or more other people;
  • The group of you collectively were using or threatening to use violence; and
  • The group's conduct together would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their personal safety.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR VIOLENT DISORDER

The other common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you were not part of the group;
  • To argue that there were not 3 or more people in the group;
  • To argue that you were not using or threatening to use violence;
  • To argue that a person of reasonable firmness would not fear for their personal safety;
  • To raise necessity, duress or self defence as the reason for your conduct.

WHICH COURT WILL HEAR YOUR MATTER?

The offence is a Summary Offence and can only be finalised in the Local Court.


Types of penalties:

Jail for a violent disorder charge: This is the most serious penalty for a violent disorder charge and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention for a violent disorder charge: Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.

Intensive corrections order for a violent disorder charge (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended sentence for a violent disorder charge: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order for a violent disorder charge. (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond for a violent disorder charge: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines for a violent disorder charge: When deciding the amount of a fine for a reckless wounding charge the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10 for a violent disorder charge: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.


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If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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