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Criminal Lawyers for Offensive Language and Conduct – ss 4 and 4A Summary Offences Act 1988

The use of offensive language and conduct in public might seem like a trivial offence, but these charges have the potential to result in a criminal record, which can have a lasting impact on your life and employment prospects.

However, having the right legal team on your side can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding a criminal record.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers® is a specialist law firm which practices exclusively in criminal law. Our highly experienced defence team regularly wins ‘offensive language and conduct’ cases and can give you the expert advice and representation necessary to win your case and avoid a criminal record.

Your options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of using offensive language or conduct, the prosecution needs to prove two things:

  • That you used language or acted in a way that is ‘offensive’
  • That the offensive language or conduct was able to be seen or heard in a public place or school

Offensive Language and Offensive Conduct are ‘summary offences’ which means that they are able to be finalised before a Magistrate in the Local Court.

Should you wish to plead ‘not guilty’, our experienced criminal lawyers can write to police and push for the charges against you to be dropped where they cannot prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt or where you have a valid legal defence.

If police still proceed, your case will eventually go to a defended hearing where police will need to prove the charge against you.

Our lawyers can help you share your side of the story in a compelling manner, and can rigorously question police and any witnesses to raise doubt about the evidence against you.

You can also call your own witnesses to back-up your testimony.

If police cannot prove the charge, the case will be thrown out of court.

The most commonly used defence for offensive language and offensive conduct is ‘reasonable excuse.’

This is where you can show to the court that you had a good reason for the language or conduct – for example, you might swear loudly after experiencing severe pain, or you may incorrectly believe that the beach you are bathing at is a nudist beach.

Some other general defences are listed below – please click on each defence for more information.

Pleading Guilty

Pleading guilty to using offensive language and conduct may be an option to consider where you do not wish to fight the charges against you.

In some cases, pleading guilty from the outset can be beneficial, as it will show the magistrate that you have accepted responsibility for your actions, which may result in a more lenient penalty.

If you’re thinking about pleading guilty to this offence, you may be wondering what kinds of penalties you could receive.

If you plead or are found guilty of using offensive language, you could face a fine of up to $660 or up to 100 hours community service.

If you plead or are found guilty of offensive conduct, you will be looking at a maximum penalty of $660 fine and/or 3 months imprisonment.

However, these are maximum penalties only. The magistrate will decide the appropriate penalty after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case.

The various penalties that the court can impose include:

With the assistance of our criminal law experts, you may be able to convince the magistrate to issue you with a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order.

This means that while you will be found guilty of the offence, it won’t appear on your criminal record, leaving you free to pursue your work and travel plans.

Our highly skilled lawyers frequently obtain non conviction orders for our clients in these types of matters, so you can count on us to secure the best possible penalty in your ‘offensive language and conduct’ case.

What Does the Law Say About Offensive Language and Conduct?

If you’ve been charged with offensive language or conduct, you may want to find out more about what the charge involves and how it may affect you.

You will find some information below about what constitutes ‘offensive language’ and ‘offensive conduct,’ as well as detailed information about what the prosecution needs to prove before you are found guilty of these offences.

However, if you’ve been charged with ‘offensive language’ or ‘offensive conduct,’ it’s important to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options in your particular case.

Give us a call today on to discuss your case with one of our experienced criminal lawyers.

What is ‘Offensive Language’ and ‘Offensive Conduct?’

‘Offensive language’ refers to situations where you use insulting language in or near a public place or school.

‘Offensive conduct’ refers to situations where you engage in conduct that would offend an ordinary person in or near a public place or school.

Examples of offensive conduct included exposing your private parts in public, skinny dipping at a public beach, or walking around your home naked when other members of the public can see you.

What does the prosecution need to prove?

To be found guilty of using offensive language, the prosecution has to prove that:

You used  language or conduct that is ‘offensive’:

There’s no list of words or conduct that is considered to be ‘offensive’ – instead, the court will determine whether or not something is offensive by using a ‘reasonable person’ test.

This means that they will consider whether or not a reasonable person would have found the language or conduct offensive.

A reasonable person can’t be someone who is overly sensitive or easily offended – to be offensive, the language must be seen to ‘wound the feelings, arouse anger or resentment or outrage in the mind of a reasonable person.’

It was able to be heard in a public place or school:

To be found guilty of offensive language or conduct, the incident must have been able to be heard or seen from a public place or a school.

Whether or not children were in the area will be a relevant consideration in determining whether the language or conduct was offensive.

A public place can include streets, public transport, car parks, alleyways, beaches and so on.

What penalties will I face if I plead guilty?

If you plead or are found guilty of using offensive language, the maximum penalty is a fine of $660 and/or 100 hours community service.

If you plead or are found guilty of offensive conduct, the maximum penalty is a fine of $660 and/or 3 months imprisonment.

However, statistics show that the most common penalty received for ‘offensive conduct’ was is  a fine of between $100 – $500, while for ‘offensive language,’ the most common penalty was also a fine between $100 – $300.

As discussed above, it is important to get the right legal team on your side where you have been charged with offensive language or conduct. This is because these offences have the ability to impact your criminal record – which can in turn affect your work and travel plans.

An experienced criminal lawyer can help you avoid a criminal record by persuading the magistrate to issue you with a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order – where no conviction is recorded on your criminal record.

Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and speak to us about how we can help you avoid a criminal record!

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.

Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results – Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction – We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm – We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
  4. Fixed Fees – We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
  5. Free First Appointment – For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee – We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
  7. All NSW Courts – From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
  8. Accredited Specialists – Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
  9. Results-Focused Law Firm – Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You – Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges – Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
  12. Convenience – We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
    • Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
    • Parramatta, near the justice precinct.

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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