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Criminal Law and Footy Season

Criminal Law and Footy Season

With the trials behind us we’re all set for round 1 of the footy season. League fans will be filling stadiums as of tonight with AFL a week behind.

While most of our beloved players have dedicated the past few months to working and training exceptionally hard, for some players it’s been an off season littered with criminal investigations, charges and court appearances. It’s not just the players who get in trouble however.

Each year Armstrong Legal acts for people who have been charged with offences stemming from their love and passion for footy. We’ve summarised some of the more common off (or on) field incidents that people find themselves facing as well as the criminal implications of those viral videos.



One of the most common offences that footy fans commit are assaults. A biff can result from an afternoon of drinking, bitter rivalry and a few hot-headed supporters. Stadiums are full of CCTV and cameras. They’re also crawling with police and security.

If a fight erupts between fans you can almost guarantee the participants will be charged with offences ranging from common assault (maximum penalty of two years imprisonment), Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (maximum penalty of 5 years or 7 years if in company) and Affray (10 years imprisonment).


Fail to quit

Stadiums are all licensed venues. This means that security can refuse you entry or, if you’re already inside, ask you to leave if they believe you’re intoxicated. The fact you’ve paid for a ticket doesn’t change powers of security or police to refuse entry.

While this may well be unfair, we see far too many people with court dates after getting into a verbal argument with security and failing or refusing to leave. It’s not uncommon for these disagreements to spiral out of control and into charges of assault, affray and where the police are also involved, resist arrest and assault police.


Enter playing field without authorisation

If you’re a footy die hard there’s a good chance you’ve personally witnessed play disrupted by an over enthusiastic fan sprinting across the field – sometimes with beer in hand, sometimes without clothes. It’s an offence to enter a playing field without authorisation with heavy fines applying. If the intruder is also “streaking” charges of indecent exposure (which carry a maximum sentence of imprisonment) can also apply.

What might be a drunken wager between mates can turn extremely serious. In 2013 a State of Origin Streaker was sentenced to 3 months gaol in the Local Court for his efforts. He lodged and appeal to the District Court.


Distribute or threaten to distribute intimate image without consent

The offseason has been full of media reports about the existence of videos involving players engaged in sexual activity. Tyrone May of the Penrith Panthers has been charged with Record Intimate Image without Consent and Disseminate Intimate Image without Consent.

A number of videos and images have gone viral. In NSW it is an offence to share, transmit or send an intimate image of another person without their consent. The videos and photos that have gone viral have probably been shared thousands, if not tens of thousands of times. Every person that shares the video could be guilty of the offence of distribute intimate image without consent. Maximum penalties for the offence include gaol. You can read more about the offence here: Distribute intimate image without consent.

Sharing of viral videos often creates a trail of evidence which theoretically, could lead to a large number of people being charged. Any person who has shared an image or video on their facebook page, Instagram or another website may be charged. Police will likely have a strong case if the person uses their identity on the page or account on which the matter is shared.

Criminal charges from a drunken spur of the moment decision can be far reaching and devastating for a person and their family. Armstrong Legal is here to help with any questions, or representation should the need arise.

Glory, Glory!

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Written by Trudie Cameron on March 14, 2019

Trudie combines her impressive skills in advocacy and legal analysis with a focus on her client's interests and wellbeing. Her experience working for senior barristers prior to starting at Armstrong Legal gives her a unique insight into criminal advocacy and practice. View Trudie's profile

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