Recently the media has focussed on the activities of criminal gangs such as bikies. In response to the alleged increase in organised crime, the government has passed new laws intended to disrupt the activities of criminal gangs.
One of these new laws is contained in section 93X of the Crimes Act, which deals with the offence of consorting.
Consorting refers to situations where you associate with at least 2 persons convicted of a criminal offence, and you associate with each of these persons on at least 2 separate occasions.
However, before you can be charged with a consorting offence, the prosecution must also prove that you had previously received an “official warning” about each of the persons who you are alleged to have consorted with.
An “official warning” is a verbal or written warning from police that the person in question is a convicted offender, and that consorting is a criminal offence.
Section 93Y of the Crimes Act also contains a list of defences to consorting charges.
It says that you cannot be charged with consorting in the following situations:
- Where the person with whom you are alleged to have consorted is a family member;
- Where you consorted with another person as part of your employment or operation of a lawful business;
- Where you consorted with someone as part of your training or education
- Where you consorted with another person in the course of provision of a health service
- Where you consort with someone in the course of providing them with legal advice
- Where you consort with someone who is in lawful custody or who is complying with a court order
If you are found guilty of consorting, you could face a maximum penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $16,500.
However, the maximum penalty will only apply in the most serious cases.
Our highly experienced criminal defence team can assist you in avoiding these heavy penalties if you have been charged with a consorting offence.
Section 93X of the Crimes Act deals with the offence of “consorting” and reads as follows:
(1) A person who:
(a) habitually consorts with convicted offenders, and
(b) consorts with those convicted offenders after having been given an official warning in relation to each of those convicted offenders,
is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 3 years, or a fine of 150 penalty units, or both.
(2) A person does not “habitually consort” with convicted offenders unless:
(a) the person consorts with at least 2 convicted offenders (whether on the same or separate occasions), and
(b) the person consorts with each convicted offender on at least 2 occasions.
(3) An “official warning” is a warning given by a police officer (orally or in writing) that:
(a) a convicted offender is a convicted offender, and
(b) consorting with a convicted offender is an offence.
Section 93Y of the Crimes Act contains a list of defences for consorting and reads as follows:
The following forms of consorting are to be disregarded for the purposes of section 93X if the defendant satisfies the court that the consorting was reasonable in the circumstances:
(a) consorting with family members,
(b) consorting that occurs in the course of lawful employment or the lawful operation of a business,
(c) consorting that occurs in the course of training or education,
(d) consorting that occurs in the course of the provision of a health service,
(e) consorting that occurs in the course of the provision of legal advice,
(f) consorting that occurs in lawful custody or in the course of complying with a court order.
Sometimes, police make mistakes, and you may be unfairly charged with a consorting offence in the absence of any other evidence.
In these situations, it can be difficult to know who to turn to for assistance in fighting the charges in court.
However, the expert defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers can assist you when it comes to taking the first steps in protecting your innocence.
Our lawyers specialise exclusively in criminal law and have the knowledge and expertise necessary to secure a favourable result in your case.
In every matter, our lawyers work hard to carefully examine all the evidence in order to identify problems with the prosecution case.
When issues are found, we can write to the police highlighting these issues and asking for the charges to be dropped on this basis.
Should police refuse to drop the charges, our experts will fight hard to defend you in court by preparing a strong defence case that raises all relevant evidence and allows for the careful and compelling examination of all witnesses.
Our criminal law specialists can also assist where you wish to plead guilty to the offence.
In these cases our lawyers will prepare compelling sentencing submissions which focus on factors such as your lack of a prior criminal history or your good character.
No matter how serious the allegations are, our experts can help you secure a positive outcome in your case.
Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference to discuss your case.