Did you know that, merely by spending time with people that have committed crimes, you may be committing an offence?
Section 93X of the Crimes Act provides that:
A person who habitually consorts with convicted offenders, and consorts with those convicted offenders after having been given an official warning in relation to each of those convicted offenders, is guilty of an offence.
For the purposes of this offence, a convicted offender is someone that has been convicted of an indictable offence. An indictable offence is a serious offence that may be prosecuted on indictment, including a court attendance notice or any other process or document by which criminal proceedings are commenced (s3 Criminal Procedure Act).
So what, then, does it mean to ‘habitually consort’?
To habitually consort, a person must be spending time with at least two convicted offenders (this can be at the same time or on different occasions), and the person must spend time with each offender on at least two occasions.
It’s important to note that there are, in place, a number of statutory exclusions from the offence.
Within reason, a person is not guilty of consorting with criminals if the convicted company is a family member or co-worker, or if the consorting occurred within the course of legal or medical services. (s93Y Crimes Act 1900 NSW)
However, it isn’t a defence to claim that the offender is a close friend, perhaps someone that was known to you long before they had committed any crimes.
Despite claims that this contravenes a person’s common law right to association, the High Court, in 2014, upheld the validity of the provision. (Tajjour v New South Wales)
What this means is that, in some cases, offenders who have served their time, may well have the law-abiding people closest to them stripped from their lives under threat of legal action.
Criminal law can be complex. If you’re facing charges or require legal advice, our expert team of lawyers is here to help.
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