X

Share This Article

The New South Wales Government is introducing an additional penalty of two-years imprisonment for those who “post and boast” about motor vehicle theft and break and enter offences.

The offence is essentially seeking to target those who commit such crimes and post about it on social media sites such as TikTok.

The Government has rationalised this move by stating that it is aiming to curb youth crime, and that there is “circumstantial evidence” from NSW Police that the “exhibitionist behaviour” was encouraging further criminal behaviour.

“People are seeing offences being committed and as a result of public exposure among social media networks, they’re encouraged to do the same thing,” said NSW Premier, Chris Minns.

The NSW Bureau of Crime and Statistics has previously hypothesised that a raise in motor vehicle theft in regional areas may be connected to trending posts on the social media platform TikTok. This report cited posts which showed young people stealing cars and joyriding at high speeds.

However, these posts are usually removed by social media platforms, which makes it difficult to gauge the extent of the issue, and how it may be motivating theft.

The proposed crime will not apply to those who ‘re-post’ the video, but rather those participating and sharing videos of themselves committing such crimes.

Queensland introduced similar provisions in early 2023, making it an aggravating factor to post and ‘boast’ about the unlawful use of a motor vehicle on a social media platform.

In February 2024, the Queensland Police Service stated that they had charged 144 young people with this offence since its introduction.

The NSW state government has noted that the new provision will be the subject of a statutory review that will take place 2 years after it commences.

It has been accompanied by further law reform seeking to tighten bail laws for teenagers (children between 14 to 18) who commit break and enter or motor vehicle theft offences while already on bail for such offences.

The bill is the ‘Bail and Crimes Amendment Bill 2024’ which seeks to insert sections 154K and 154L into the Crimes Act 1900(NSW). The offence is referred to as a ‘performance crime offence’.

Section 154K criminalises disseminating material to advertise the person’s involvement in the offence, or the act or omission constituting the offence. This is limited to motor theft offences or breaking and entering offences.

Material is broadly defined to include anything that contains data from which text, images or sound can be generated (i.e., social media posts including videos).

Advertising essentially refers to the act of attracting the notice and attention of the public or a limited section of the public (i.e., your ‘followers’). Disseminating includes sending, supplying, exhibiting, transmitting, or communicating material, including via social media and other electronic methods.

The maximum penalty applicable for a ‘performance crime offence’ equals the total of the maximum penalty for the motor theft offence or breaking and entering offence, and imprisonment for 2 years.

It provides that if an offender is convicted of a performance crime offence, they cannot also be convicted of a motor theft offence or breaking and entering offence in relation to the act or omission constituting the performance crime offence.

Stealing a motor vehicle, vessel or trailer is criminalised under section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

However, if the matter is dealt with in the Local Court, the maximum penalty applicable is instead limited to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $11,000 fine for a single offence.

It is classified as a ‘table 1’ offence which means that it will be dealt with summarily in the Local Court, unless the prosecutor or accused person elects to take it to the District Court.

This offence differs from, and is considered more serious than, the offence of taking a conveyance without the consent of the owner which is more commonly known as ‘joyriding’.

The main difference is that an offence of stealing a motor vehicle requires the prosecution to prove that the accused person had the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle.

Section 154A criminalises taking a conveyance without the consent of the owner.

A conveyance is defined as any cart, wagon, cab, carriage, motor car, caravan, trailer, motor lorry, tractor, earth moving equipment, omnibus, motor or other bicycle, tank or other military vehicle, or any ship, or vessel, used or intended for navigation.

A maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment is applicable to this offence,

However, this offence is classified as a ‘table 2’ offence which means that it will be dealt with summarily in the Local Court, unless the prosecution elects to take it to the District Court.

In the Local Court, the maximum penalty applicable is instead limited to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine for a single offence.

By Poppy Morandin.

AUTHOR Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

View all posts by Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia