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New South Wales has had a long history of gang related problems and over the years the government has enacted legislation to combat the problems of gang related crime. However, this problem is not exclusive to New South Wales, with the threat of gangs and the increasing problems that the pose to society have been felt in all States and Territories of Australia.
In the recent news media, “African” gangs have gained significant media attention and as a result, a Police Task Force has been set up in Victoria to combat the increasing violence and lawlessness of gangs such as “Apex,” which appear to be at the centre of the recent problems.
Criminal Gangs have become a political hot-button over the 2017/18 summer, with politicians and community leaders all using the incidents as a platform to publicise their agendas and explore the relationship between law enforcement and government policy and the marginalisation of minority groups. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has gone as far as to blame the problem on the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew’s Labor Government restricting the police, and allowing the problem to get out of control.
One of the weapons that police use against criminal gangs are consorting laws in their various forms across the States. In 2012, consorting laws in NSW were modernised in an attempt to disrupt the activities of organised crime syndicates and criminal gangs such as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMG’s). These changes can be found in Part 3A, Division 7 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) (“the Act”), which states in section 93X:
A person who:
Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 3 years, or a fine of 150 penalty units, or both.
The obvious solution to breaking down the fabric of organised criminal syndicates and criminal gangs such as OMG’s is to stop them from associating or speaking to each other. Interestingly, the definition of “Consort” under the Act, covers all the different ways in which criminals may attempt to interact, as stated in section 93W:
“Consort means consort in person or by any other means, including by electronic or other form of communication.”
In 2015, the Victorian State Government amended the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012 (VIC) to prohibit individuals associating with individuals convicted of serious criminal offences for the purpose of preventing the commission of offences.
I have been charged with consorting in NSW, what do I do?
If you were to be convicted of consorting in NSW, you are facing a fine of up to $16,500, three years in prison or both. It is imperative that you seek legal advice at the earliest occasion to ensure that your rights are protected. Please contact Armstrong Legal on 02 9261 4555 for an obligation free consultation with our Criminal Law Team to plan your defence.
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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100