Violent disorder is an offence against the peace and security of the community. The statutory provisions relating to violent disorder is found in Section 11A of the Summary Offences Act of New South Wales.
It provides that if “three or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence and the conduct of them when 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 the offence violent disorder.” For the purpose of this section, it is immaterial whether the persons involved have used or threatened unlawful violence simultaneously.
The accused should have either the intention to use or threaten violence or the awareness that his or her conduct may be violent or threaten violence. As subsection 7 provides, violence includes violent conduct towards property as well as persons. It is not necessary to show that actual damages or harm has been caused due to the violent conduct concerned.
Violent disorder is a summary offence and therefore it should be distinguished from affray which is an indictable offence. However, the statutory provisions relating to affray and violent disorder are somewhat similar as both these offences are based on English legislation.
Therefore in certain situations, it may be possible to try the persons who use or threaten unlawful violence against others for either affray or violent disorder. It is then usually up to the investigating officers to decide on the offence which the offender is to be charged for.
However, so far as the offender is concerned, the difference between affray and violent disorder can be significant as the former is an indictable offence whereas the latter is not. The indictable offences can be tried by a judge and a jury; however the proceedings will be time consuming. A summary offence is an offence which should be tried by a single judge without a jury. As a result, the proceedings will be faster than that of an indictable offence. There are differences between the penalties imposed for an indictable offence and a summary offence as well.
The offence of violent disorder can be committed either in private or in public. The Act defines “public place” broadly to include a place or a part of premises. It should be open to the public or be used by the public regardless of whether there is a payment involved or whether the place is open for only a limited class of persons. However, a school is not considered as a public place.
The maximum penalty for violent disorder is a fine of $1100 and/or 6 months jail term. In addition, other penalties such as community service, intensive correction order, fine, good behaviour bond, suspended sentence, home detention and avoiding the criminal record under Section 10 may also be possible depending on the circumstances.
The persons charged with violent disorder will usually have defences such as duress, necessity and self defence. Also if it is proven that the number of persons involved is less than three the charge of violent disorder cannot be maintained. Criminal Lawyers Newcastle, Criminal lawyers Perth, Criminal Lawyers Parramatta
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.