Violent Disorder – s 11A Summary Offences Act 1988


Being charged with violent disorder can be a distressing and unsettling experience for you and your loved ones.

However, with the help of the experts at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, you can take steps to secure a positive outcome in your violent disorder case by fighting the charges or persuading the magistrate to deal with the matter leniently.

‘Violent disorder’ refers to situations where three or more persons act together in using or threatening unlawful violence, where this conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her personal safety.

It is very similar to the offence of affray, however it requires the participation of at least three persons who must each use or threaten violence.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

To be found guilty of violent disorder, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Three or more persons used or threatened unlawful violence
  • The threat or use of unlawful violence would cause a person of reasonable firmness who was present at the scene to fear for his or her safety

If you feel that the prosecution will be unable to prove these two elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you may consider discussing the option of pleading ‘not guilty’ with one of our experienced criminal law specialists.

Our persuasive advocates can help you present your side of the story in court in a compelling manner, together with any evidence that supports your case and disputes the allegations against you.

We can also help you identify any defences that can be raised to explain or justify your actions – which, if accepted, will help you secure a verdict of ‘not guilty.’

Commonly raised defences for violent conduct include:

  • Where you used unlawful violence to protect yourself, your property or another person (self-defence)
  • Where you were threatened or coerced into using the unlawful violence (duress)
  • Where you used unlawful violence to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)

Our expert criminal defence lawyers have a proven track record of fighting and winning violent conduct cases. Our specialist knowledge of criminal law, coupled with our outstanding advocacy skills, enables us to fight and win even the most difficult violent conduct cases.

Pleading Guilty

If you do not want to fight the charges, you may wish to enter a plea of guilty and allow one of our expert criminal lawyers to help you secure a lenient penalty.

By entering a plea of guilty at an early stage in the proceedings, you will be able to have your violent disorder matter resolved quickly, as you will proceed straight to sentencing, which is where the magistrate will determine the appropriate penalty.

Pleading guilty at an early stage may also result in a more favourable outcome as it will demonstrate to the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. This will often mean that you receive a more lenient penalty.

However, before you enter a plea, you should discuss your case with our specialist criminal lawyers, who will be able to advise whether you are able to fight the charges to secure a verdict of ‘not guilty.’

If you are considering entering a plea of guilty to the charges, you may be interested to know the possible penalties that may apply.

Although the offence of violent disorder is somewhat similar to the offence of affray, it carries a much lesser maximum penalty. The maximum penalty for violent disorder is a fine of $1,100 or 6 months imprisonment.

However, these penalties will only apply in the most serious violent disorder cases – alternatively, the court may impose any of the following penalties:

With the assistance of our experienced criminal lawyers, you may be able to avoid a conviction altogether by persuading the magistrate to issue you with a ‘section 10,’ which is where you are found guilty of violent disorder, but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record. This is an attractive penalty as it means that the offence will not impact your ability to work or travel.

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we have a proven track record of obtaining section 10s in a wide range of criminal matters, including violent disorder.

What the Law Says About Violent Disorder?

When you’ve been charged with an offence like violent disorder, it’s only natural to want to equip yourself with as much information as possible to help you understand the charges.

We have provided some additional information below to help you understand what a violent disorder charge means for you.

What does the prosecution need to prove?

To be found guilty of violent disorder, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Three or more persons used or threatened unlawful violence

Unlike affray, the offence of violent disorder requires the prosecution to prove that there were three or more persons used unlawful violence, or that you were all aware that your conduct may cause someone to fear violence. Each person involved must be seen to have used or threatened violence.

Violence can include damage or injury caused to persons or property, as well as any conduct which may result in injury – for example, throwing objects that are capable of causing injury at other persons, even if your actions do not result in injury.

There must be evidence of a physical act, such as the making of threatening movements or gestures. Words alone will not be enough to constitute an affray.

The threatening conduct may occur in either a public or a private place – in other words, you may charged with affray where you were in a private house, or a more public area, such as an airport, beach or pub.

2. The threat or use of unlawful violence would cause a person of reasonable firmness who was present at the scene to fear for his or her safety

Your conduct (as well as that of the other people involved) must be shown to cause an ordinary person to fear for their safety.

However, it is not necessary for people to actually be around for there to be an affray – for example, you may still be charged with affray if you are seen making threats or acting in a threatening manner on CCTV footage, even if no other people are nearby.

What penalties am I looking at?

As discussed above, the maximum penalty for violent disorder is a fine of $1,100 and/or 6 months imprisonment. However, this penalty will be reserved for only the most serious offences, as imprisonment can only be imposed as a last resort.

The magistrate may deal with a violent disorder charge using a variety of penalties, however, statistics indicate that the most commonly imposed penalty is a s 9 good behaviour bond.

A s 9 bond means that the court will require you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time (in other words, you will not be able to commit any further offences). They may also impose additional conditions upon you – for example, you may be prohibited from entering a particular area.

Alternatively, if it is your first offence, it is likely that you will receive a fine, with the average fine being $400.

However, ultimately, the penalty imposed will depend on various factors which are unique to your case – such as the number of persons involved, the extent of the violent conduct, the gravity of the damage or harm caused, as well as other factors, such as your criminal record and whether there is a likelihood of you reoffending.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being charged with violent disorder can be an upsetting and distressing experience. But with the right lawyers on your side, you can effectively fight the charges to get the best possible result.

The expert defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers has built a reputation for helping our clients achieve positive outcomes in violent disorder cases, no matter how serious the charges.

In every case, we fight to have the charges dropped before the matter reaches court, saving our clients the expense and inconvenience of a defended hearing.

We do this by meticulously examining all the evidence to find problems with the prosecution case – for example, by presenting evidence to show that the persons involved did not intend to cause other people to fear unlawful violence.

Alternatively, we can advise you on any defences that may be raised to explain your actions; such as where you were acting in self-defence or under duress.

We also pride ourselves on our ability to obtain section 10s in difficult violent disorder cases – allowing you to avoid the possibility of a criminal record affecting your work and travel plans.

So for the best possible defence in your violent disorder matter, call the experts on (02) 9261 8881 and book a FREE first conference to discuss how we can help you win your case.

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