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Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

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The Crimes Act 1900 is the main piece of legislation relating to criminal offences in New South Wales.

If you are going to court over allegations under the Crimes Act 1900, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free first appointment with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will advise you in relation to the charges, explain your options and fight for the optimal outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Crimes Act 1900 NSW do?

The Crimes Act 1900 sets out state criminal offences for New South Wales, along with their defences and maximum penalties.

What does the Crimes Act 1900 NSW cover?

The Crimes Act 1900 covers a range of criminal offences, from assault offences, to property offences such as larceny and stealing, to sexual offences such as sexual acts, sexual touching and sexual assault, to drug offences such as drug possession and drug supply, to offences involving fraud such as obtaining a benefit by deception, forgery and embezzlement, to public order offences such as affray and riot, to offences against justice such as perjury, perverting the course of justice and making a false statement.

The Act is continually being amended, with new offences being added almost every year, and currently contains more than 500 sections, many of which have subsections.

Is the Crimes Act 1900 the only criminal law that applies in New South Wales?

No. There are dozens of pieces of legislation that contain criminal offences in New South Wales, including then Road Transport Act 2013 which contains many traffic offences such as drink driving, drug driving, negligent driving, reckless driving and driving whilst suspended or disqualified, the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 which deals with apprehended violence orders and stalking or intimidation offences, the Weapons Prohibition Act which deals with the illegal use of weapons and the Firearms Act which deals with illegal use of firearms.

So although the Crimes Act 1900 is the main piece of state legislation that regulates criminal law in New South Wales, there are many other state laws which contain criminal offences.

In addition to this, the Criminal Code Act 1995 is a piece of Commonwealth legislation which applies across the nation, including in New South Wales.

Do all offences under the Crimes Act 1900 carry a criminal record?

Yes. All of the offences contained in the Crimes Act 1900 carry the potential of a criminal record if a person is found guilty.

Can I defend a case if I am accused of an offence under the Crimes Act 1900?

Yes, there are many ways of defending criminal offences under the Crimes Act 1900.

The first thing to be aware of is that the prosecution must prove every one of the elements (or ingredients) of any offence under the Crimes Act 1900 beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a person to be found guilty.

Many of the offences under the Crimes Act 1900 require the prosecution to prove several elements.

If the prosecution is unable to prove any one of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be found guilty of the offence.

In addition to this, there are several legal defences to charges under the Crimes Act 1900, including self-defence, duress, necessity, automatism and mental illness defences.

If you can raise evidence of any of these defences, the prosecution must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defence does not apply in your case.

If the prosecution is unable to do so, you are entitled to an acquittal – in other words, a finding of not guilty.

Can I avoid a criminal record if I am guilty of an offence under the Crimes Act 1900?

If you wish to plead guilty to an offence under the Crimes Act 1900, a good criminal defence lawyer can increase the likelihood of a ‘non-conviction order’ being made in your case by:

  • negotiating the downgrading of your charges,
  • negotiating the amendment of the police allegations (known as the ‘police facts’) to make them less-serious,
  • guiding you on the preparation of materials such as character references and a letter of apology to the court, which can provide an insight into the conduct, show that you are remorseful, and help show there will be no further offending,
  • assisting you to undertake relevant programs to address any issues which the court may believe could lead to future offending, and 
  • Presenting your case persuasively inside the courtroom.

These factors that significantly increase the change of you obtaining:

Each of these outcomes mean that you will avoid a criminal conviction and the penalties that may go with it.

Making a mental health application

If you suffer from a mental health or cognitive impairment, such as depression, anxiety or another type of condition, an application can be made in the Local Court to have your case dismissed on the condition that you enter a mental health treatment plan

If the application is successful, there will be no criminal conviction or even a finding of guilty made against your name.

Click on the appropriate link below to read the relevant section of the Crimes Act 1900.

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