It is an offence to, in a public place or police station to:
- behave in a disorderly or offensive manner; or
- fight with another person; or
- use offensive language.
A public place may include:
- a place to which the public has free access;
- a place that the public pays money to access;
- a road, street, footpath etc that the public are allowed to use, even if it is on private property;
- a ship or vessel; and
- any licenced premises such as a hotel, club or pub.
Disorderly or offensive behaviour includes riotous, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviours. This would capture abusing others on the street or smashing bottles on the road.
This offence is contained in section 7 of the South Australian Summary Offences Act 1953.
Our experienced criminal lawyers at Caldicott Lawyers are experts in all criminal matters, including the offence of disorderly behaviour.
Call us on (08) 8110 7900 to make an appointment with one of the knowledgeable lawyers at Caldicott Lawyers for assistance with your matter.
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $1,250 or imprisonment for 3 months
It may be a defence to the charge if you:
- lacked the necessary intent;
- acted in self-defence; or
- acted in defence of another.
Honest and reasonable mistake of fact (Proudman vs Dayman Defence)
If you genuinely believed that your behaviour was not disorderly, and it was reasonable for you to hold that belief then you may have a defence to this charge.
It is a complete defence to the charge of disorderly behaviour if we can show that you were acting under duress. That is, you were acting as a result of violence, or some other threat against you. You will have a defence to this charge if we can demonstrate that you were coerced into the act by a third party, effectively rendering you an instrument of someone else’s criminal conduct.
The common law defence of necessity operates where the circumstances at hand (natural or human threats) require you to break the law in order to avoid even more dire consequences. There is, thus, some overlap with the defence of duress. It will need to be shown that you believed on reasonable grounds that you were placed in a situation of imminent peril. You may have a medical justification, or it may be the case that you were acting in the course of protecting yourself or someone else.
Essentially, the Court will need to weigh up the act you have committed, against the harm you would have experienced had you not acted in that manner. The Court will also need to be convinced that the act was proportionate to the potential harm.
The law recognises that, in some cases, people will not be capable of evaluating the nature and quality of their conduct or more categorically, they will not know what they are doing is wrong. If it can be shown that you were suffering from some sort of mental disease, disorder or disturbance, as distinguished from a mere lack of self-control or impulsiveness, then you may have a defence to this charge.
Mental impairments may be either permanent or non-permanent and may include disorders such as:
- Psychomotor epilepsy
- Cerebral arteriosclerosis
The Police Prosecutor must prove that:
- your conduct was disorderly; and
- you consciously and deliberately intended to act disorderly.
Come and see the professional team at Caldicott Lawyers for assistance in your disorderly behaviour matter.
The offence of disorderly behaviour is a summary offence and will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court of South Australia.