Offensive Language Or Conduct – s 4 Summary Offences Act 1988
Being charged with offensive language or conduct in public is stressful, having to come to court and face a possible conviction effecting travel and career. Our leading team of Sydney criminal defence lawyers have achieved a proven track record of getting their clients charges dropped early, and avoid a criminal record on countless occasions.
Your Options in Court
PLEADING NOT GUILTY
You will be found guilty to a charge of offensive language or conduct if police can prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- You behaved in conduct or used language that is considered to calculate to wound the feelings, arouse anger or resentment or disgust or outrage in the mind of a reasonable person.
- You did this near, within view or hearing from a public place or school
You will be found not guilty if police are unable to prove each of the above two elements of this offence.
Defences to this charge
You will be found not guilty to this charge if any one of the following defences apply to you:
- Your conduct or language was a mere expression of political opinion
- Your conduct or language is not considered to cause a reasonable person, in today’s society, disgust, outrage, arouse resentment or anger, or would the feelings of. A reasonable person is someone who is not thin-skinned.
- You had a reasonable excuse for behaving this way or using this language, for example, self defence or where you’re trying to break up a brawl.
- Duress or necessity
Speak to one of our senior lawyers for realistic advice on your best defence.
If pleading guilty to offensive language or conduct, be sure to speak to a senior lawyer for advice on maximising your chances at avoiding a criminal record. See below for important tips and information on how to best prepare your case to achieve the best possible outcome.
25% discount on punishment
You can be entitled to a discount of up to 25% off your punishment resulting in a more lighter outcome with much better chances of avoiding a criminal conviction. You can only receive this discount if a plea of guilty is entered at the earliest opportunity of your case. The later you enter the plea of guilty, the less discount you will receive.
It’s important to receive experienced advice as early as possible in your case to ensure you don’t miss out on getting the full discount. Pleading guilty early can also be seen as a reflection of your remorse and contrition allowing further leniency in your court outcome.
Good character references
It’s important to gather good character reference letters from people who know you expressing your otherwise great character, your remorse and insight into your offending conduct which all allows the Judge to further reduce your punishment getting you a much better outcome.
Our senior lawyers have seen and reviewed thousands of character references. They will guide you as to which people to get one from and which not to. Generally, it is a good idea to get character letters from a family member, work colleague, employer, friend or charity. Even a letter of apology from yourself can go a long way. Our team of lawyers will guide you through the process.
Negotiate to drop charges
The offensive language or conduct charge can potentially get dropped early in the case. Our team of senior lawyers have successfully convinced police to drop these charges on many occasions for over 20 years.
To maximise your chances at successfully achieving this, it’s critical to have an experienced specialist defence lawyer to carefully go through and become very familiar with the police evidence, pick out the problems in it, and then use that knowledge to strategically approach police when negotiating.
By pleading guilty, your required to agree to a set of facts expressing what you did and how you did it. This set of facts is usually drafted by police, is one sided, and then handed to the Judge to read right before he or she gives you a punishment. This often results in a heavier punishment because it’s portrayed you in the worst possible way.
Our team of senior lawyers object to this course. They analyse the police evidence, point out all the holes in it, and manage to often change the set of facts to express the truth about the situation so that the Judge reading it can consider a much lighter punishment for you.
A powerful court report from an experienced and respected psychologist or psychiatrist can significantly improve the outcome of your case, allowing the Judge to give you a lighter punishment, including a s10 non conviction. Our senior lawyers will guide you in this process.
To maximise your chances at avoiding a criminal conviction, it’s important that the report comes from a reputable and experienced expert psychologist or psychiatrist giving an opinion about your mental state at the time, your remorse and your insight as to your offending behaviour. This will allow the Judge to give you further leniency and a better outcome.
The maximum punishment for a charge of offensive conduct is a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months and/or $660 fine.
The maximum punishment for a charge of offensive language is not term of imprisonment, but a fine of up to $660 or, in stead of a fine, a community service order of up to 100 hours. This is unpaid work in the community.
The courts rarely give the maximum punishments which are only given to the most serious cases. There are other kinds of punishments noted below.
Types of punishment
The Judge can give you any one of the follows types of punishment, depending on the way your case is prepared as discussed above:
- Section 10 non conviction.
- Section 9 good behaviour bond
- Community Service Order
- Section 12 suspended sentence
- Intensive Corrections Order
- Home Detention
- Full Time Imprisonment
Speak to one of our experienced Sydney defence lawyers for realistic and practical advice on how to maximise your chances at avoiding a criminal conviction. A senior lawyer will thoroughly prepare and powerfully present your case, putting you in the best possible light.