When thinking about the law, most people associate being charged with a criminal offence with going to court and needing to make your case before a Judge or Magistrate. While that is certainly true in many circumstances, there are ticketable offences where the police have the discretion to issue an infringement notice instead. In such cases, paying the notice is a way to resolve your matter without you formally needing to go to court.
The option for the police to issue you with an infringement notice, or an ‘on-the-spot’ fine, arises in cases of so-called street crimes, and examples include public urination, public begging, or being drunk and disorderly. Most of these simple ticketable offences are covered in the Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld). When you are issued with an infringement notice in these cases, you are well within your rights to begin contesting a ticket of this nature in court. However, if you decide to pay the notice, then your matter does not proceed to court, and the matter is finalised without any criminal history being recorded. As such, it is important to note the key offences which give the police this option.
Understanding Ticketable Offences
The ticketable offence of public nuisance is stipulated in section 6 of the Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld). It states that a person who commits a public nuisance offence is liable to 10 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment. This can be increased to 25 penalty units if the offence is committed within the vicinity of a licenced premises, like a nightclub. Behaviour that constitutes public nuisance is any behaviour that is disorderly, offensive, threatening, or violent. This type of behaviour has a wide scope of interpretation, and it can be enough that you are interfering with someone else’s ability to peacefully enjoy a public place. A public place is any area or location that is normally used by members of the public, for instance, streets, shops, restaurants, and train stations.
Because of the wide scope of conduct that could fall under this offence, the penalties can vary. The police ultimately have the discretion to issue an infringement notice, rather than the matter needing to go to court.
In Queensland, it is a criminal offence to assault or obstruct a police officer in the performance of their duties. This offence is stipulated in section 790 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld) and carries a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment. Similar to the offence of public nuisance, penalties for committing this offence in a licenced premises can be steeper, and the maximum penalty increases to 60 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment. While it is possible for this to be a ticketable offence should the police choose to issue an infringement notice for this offence, this discretion is only enlivened if the obstruction is in relation to a public nuisance offence.
Why Engage a Lawyer?
If you have been charged with any of the above offences, or have been issued with a ticket that gives you the choice of paying the fine or contesting a ticket in court, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can advise on the prospects of contesting any charges, or whether paying the fine is the best way to resolve the matter. Furthermore, in many cases, these offences are formally brought before the court, with the risk of steeper penalties being present. In these circumstances, it is crucial to retain a lawyer to seek the best outcome possible, including to see whether the issuing of an infringement notice remains an option, allowing you to avoid contesting a ticket in court.
If you have been issued a notice, or need help contesting a ticket related to any criminal charges, the friendly staff at Beavon Lawyers are always happy to assist. Appearing on a range of matters right across Queensland, our expert lawyers know the law well, and negotiate with the police on a daily basis as part of the court process.
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For the criminal defence lawyers Brisbane relies on for fearless defence, get in touch with Beavon Lawyers today. For any inquiries, or to organise a free consultation, give our office a call on 1800 558 533 or get in touch online.