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The local Australian laws you haven’t heard of

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The law is filled with grey areas. Oftentimes, there are things that you do unintentionally that can land you in hot water. 

We’ve compiled a list of some rare local laws that you may not have heard of, striking the balance between uncommon and what’s actually conceivable. These laws are changing all the time – a good example of this is the legal changes to same sex marriage.

Breaking laws could see you slapped with a hefty fine, or even worse—behind bars. So it’s best to be aware of other possible outcomes, just in case you find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

1) Affray

Have you ever wondered what happened to the guys that got into a fight in the neighbourhood pub? Or even on the streets?

Aside from getting bruised and bodied, the offender might be seeing a maximum punishment equivalent to either three months of jail time or a fine of $1250.

If authorities were summoned and the situation escalated to court, they’ll likely be charged with fighting in a public place.

According to local law, the act of affray is covered by section 7 of the South Australian Summary Offences Act 1953.

Common defences that lawyers may use against this charge are if the defendant:

  • acted in self-defence
  • lacked intent
  • acted in defence of another person

So the next time you see a fight about to break out, think twice before joining in. One thing might lead to another, and you might end up being the one who gets charged.

2) Good Behaviour Bonds

A good behaviour bond is an order that requires an offender to be of good behaviour for a specified period, usually 12 months.

This is typically a favourable sentence compared to a fine or imprisonment since it essentially serves as a warning rather than an outright punishment.

This type of sentence is often given to first-time offenders or those who have committed relatively minor offences that aren’t traffic offences.

The offender will be required to sign the bond. If they re-offend or breach the conditions of the bond during the specified time frame, they’ll be brought back to court and re-sentenced for the offence.

Local examples of section 9 bonds in action are a breaking-and-entering, employer-employee case that resulted in only an 18-month community correction order and a $25,000 car insurance fraud case that resulted in only a 12-month good behaviour bond.

3) Conditional Release

While some legal outcomes result in freedom from punishment, there may be records of the conviction that can still haunt an individual long after they’ve paid their dues. This can come in the form of:

  • licensure removal
  • work dismissal
  • failure to secure a job from a future employer
  • inability to secure a visa to travel overseas

Fortunately, not all court cases are fated to end up on the books. If an offence is minor enough, a court may discharge a defendant without recording the conviction. In some rare cases, it’s also possible for full-time imprisonment to be overruled in favour of conditional release.

This is enforced as Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

Most cases of conditional release involve drug offences and domestic issues and are often given to first-time offenders as an alternative to a harsher sentence.

For instance, if a music festival-goer has been caught possessing small amounts of illegal drugs by sniffer dogs, a lawyer can call for a section 10 if the person is of good moral character and doesn’t have any other offences on their record.

4) Replica Firearms

A replica firearm is an imitation of an actual gun, with built-in loading and firing mechanisms all constructed in the same likeness as a genuine firearm.

The term “replica firearm” doesn’t include children’s toys or airsoft guns. The replica firearm must not be able to fire live ammunition and should be incapable of causing grievous bodily harm.

If you had previously believed that replica firearms and actual firearms carried different penalties, you’d be mistaken.

In the eyes of the law, replica firearms are just as serious as the real thing. Replica firearms, under regulation 9 of the Firearm Regulations 2017 state that the Firearms Act may be amended if the replica firearm is (1) substantially identical in appearance to a firearm and (2) capable of causing fear or alarm to a person who sees or hears the replica firearm being used.

Ways you can defend yourself in this position is if you’re an authorised person, weren’t in possession in the first place, and had a reasonable belief to have had it in your possession.

Takeaway

When it comes to being charged with a crime, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the severity of your offence and your criminal history, the punishment will vary.

The best way to avoid any legal penalties is to be proactive and always educate yourself on the local laws in your ar ea. If you do find yourself on the wrong side of the law, seek professional legal advice to ensure you’re given the best chance at a favourable outcome.


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