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Public Nuisance Offence

What Might Constitute a Public Nuisance?

This is possibly the most commonly encountered offence seen by a criminal defence lawyer.  Perhaps the reason for this is that a wide range of circumstances can give rise to the offence, and those circumstances are often associated with significant alcohol consumption. 

A quick look at section 6 of the Summary Offences Act 2005 reveals that just one of the vague types of conduct falling into the category of public nuisance is called "disorderly conduct".  Now, according to the case of Coleman v Power [2004] HCA 39 "disorderly conduct" means behaviour which is likely to cause a disturbance, or annoy, or insult others sufficiently deeply or seriously to warrant the interference of the criminal law. 

But obviously whether one type of conduct or another fits that description is open to interpretation.  What annoys or insults one person might not annoy or insult another.  And that can present real problems for anyone charged with public nuisance - particularly if alcohol is alleged to have been involved.

But you might ask yourself, why is this type of wide definition such a problem.  Well, in 2008 the Crime and Misconduct Commission conducted a review of  all sentences imposed on offenders convicted of public nuisance and concluded, amongst other things, that just over half of them ended up with a conviction recorded against their names.  The effect of such a result is that all of the aspirations you had as a university student or apprentice evaporate. 

How Can That be Avoided?

One of the real issues in public nuisance matters is whether the conduct complained of really constitutes the type of "public nuisance" the Summary Offences Act sought to prohibit.  If not carefully considered, a court may make judgements about your conduct which are completely at odds with how you perceived it, or intended it to be viewed.  Contextualising the conduct alleged with the aid of current community standards, the defendant's intention and the help of precedent may see you avoid the consequences of a conviction.

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Public Nuisance Cases in the News

Former Bandidos bikies plead guilty to downgraded charges in the Broadbeach brawl case

southport courthouse

A FORMER Bandidos bikie and another man have pleaded guilty to taking part in the notorious Broadbeach brawl that sparked an unprecedented crackdown on bikies.

Luke Saggus, alleged to have been a Bandidos office bearer, and Dion Wallace pleaded guilty to the downgraded charges of affray and public nuisance in the Southport Magistrates Court this morning. Read the whole story

Former NRL bad boy Anthony Watts escapes punishment after flashing Mongols tattoo at Broady restaurant

former NRL anthony wattsNRL bad boy turned boxer Anthony Watts has escaped punishment for flashing his Mongols tattoo and threatening staff in a Broadbeach restaurant.

In the Southport Magistrates Court this afternoon the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to the charges of public nuisance and common assault in relation to the incident on February 23 last year.

Prosecutor Trudi Jobberns said Watts was at the restaurant 1two3 in Broadbeach when a friend of his removed a bottle of wine from a fridge out the back.

When a staff member asked for the wine back she said Watts removed a sticking plaster from his hand to show his 1 per cent criminal motorcycle gang tattoo.

She said he then asked the staff member “do you know who you’re dealing with?”

Ms Jobberns said the manager of the restaurant then walked up to Watts, who stood up and acted like he intended to assault him. Read the whole story

Fake Campbell Newman tweeter Iain Fogerty sees public nuisance charges dropped

fake campbell newman twitter

Public nuisance charges have been dropped against a man who ran a parody Twitter account of former Queensland premier Campbell Newman.

Iain Fogerty, who went by @Can_Do_Campbell on Twitter, was wearing a T-shirt reading "I'm with stupid" when he allegedly heckled and pushed Liberal National Party (LNP) volunteers in Fortitude Valley during the state election campaign in January. Read the whole story

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