With the media and government’s increased focus on dismantling criminal and bikie gangs, there has been a rise in the number of people prosecuted under ‘consorting’ laws.
Consorting essentially refers to situations where persons deemed to be criminals repeatedly associate with each other.
Consorting laws aim to enable police to disrupt the activities of criminal gangs by preventing members from associating with each other, however police have been seen to press consorting charges in the absence of any factual basis or evidence.
Our highly qualified criminal law specialists have considerable experience fighting and winning consorting cases and have the knowledge and insight necessary to effectively fight the charges and protect your innocence.
Your Options in Court
If you believe that you have been unfairly charged with a consorting offence, our experienced advocates can give you the representation you need to fight the charges and secure a positive outcome in your case.
To be found guilty of a consorting offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- “Habitually consorted” with a convicted offender(s) and
- That you did so after being given an “official warning” in relation to each of those convicted offenders.
If the prosecution is unable to prove both of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found “not guilty.”
If you wish to plead not guilty, our expert defence team will fight hard to protect your innocence.
Unlike other law firms who may urge you to fight the charges in court, our experts always seek to have the charges dropped at an early stage by writing to police and highlighting any deficiencies in their case.
However, should the prosecution refuse to drop the charges, our outstanding advocates will work hard to raise all possible defences to ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Commonly raised defences for consorting offences include:
- Where you had a lawful purpose for associating with the convicted offender(s) – for more information see the ‘what does the law say about consorting’ section below;
- Where you were coerced or threatened into consorting with the convicted offender (duress)
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender to prevent serious injury or death (necessity)
In some cases, you may simply wish to accept the charges against you and plead guilty.
This may be beneficial as it will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
In most cases, the court will impose a more lenient penalty for an early guilty plea – in other words, the magistrate or judge will give you a “discount” on your sentence.
You will also avoid the time and expense associated with fighting the matter in court.
However, before pleading guilty, you should always speak to a reputable and experienced criminal defence lawyer who can advise whether there is any way to fight the charges in court.
Our lawyers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area and would be happy to advise you on the best course of action in your case.
It is also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that may apply in your case.
For consorting, the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $16,500.
However, our highly skilled advocates will push for the matter to be heard in the Local Court, where the maximum penalties are much lower.
Our knowledgeable senior lawyers will prepare effective sentencing submissions to highlight any positive factors that may reduce the seriousness of your actions.
We will push to have the matter dealt with by way of an alternative and less onerous penalty.
The types of penalties that can be imposed by the court include:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
The hard work and dedication of our specialist defence team enables us to consistently obtain outstanding results for our clients in these types of cases.
Often, it is beneficial to be informed about what the law says about consorting.
By familiarising yourself with the law, you can better understand the best steps to take when it comes to fighting the charges in court.
We have compiled some additional information below that may assist if you have been charged with a consorting offence.
What does “habitually consort” mean?
”Habitually consort” means that you associate with at least 2 convicted offenders, and that you consort with each offender on at least 2 separate occasions.
What is an “official warning”?
An “official warning” means a warning by police that a person is a convicted offender, and that consorting or associating with a convicted offender is an offence. Warnings may be either written or verbal.
What is a “convicted offender”?
A “convicted offender” is someone who has been found guilty of a criminal offence.
What is a “lawful excuse” for consorting?
Under s 93Y of the Crimes Act, there is a list of situations in which you cannot be found guilty of consorting. These are:
- Where the convicted offender(s) is a family member;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of lawful employment or operations of a business;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of education or training;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of the provision of a health service;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of providing legal advice;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) while they were in custody, or in the course of complying with a court order.
Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?
Being charged with a “consorting” offence can be highly damaging to your reputation and may result in heavy penalties under the law.
However, with the right legal team on your side, you can give yourself the best possible defence against the charges and get on with your life as soon as possible.
At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we have considerable experience fighting and winning consorting cases.
Our expert knowledge of this area of the law is reflected in our outstanding results, which are consistently far better than those achieved by other law firms.
In every case, our senior lawyers work hard to have the charges dropped outside of court by carefully examining all the evidence in order to find problems with the prosecution case.
We can then write to the prosecution raising these issues and requesting that the charges be dropped.
Often, this means that our clients are able to have matters resolved quickly without the need for a costly and time-consuming defended hearing.
If the prosecution refuses to drop the charges, we guarantee that you will be represented at all court dates by one of our senior lawyers; highly experienced criminal advocates with a proven track record of winning complex criminal cases.
Our dedicated lawyers can also represent you if you simply wish to plead guilty – with years of experience presenting compelling sentencing submissions, you can rest assured that we will fight hard to obtain the most lenient penalty possible.
So for the best possible representation in your consorting matter, get the experts on your side today. Call us now on (02) 9261 8881 to book you FREE first conference with our senior lawyers.