Violent Disorder – s 11A Summary Offences Act 1988


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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 dismissal or conditional release order,’ 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 10 dismissals and conditional release orders 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 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:

    • 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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