Offensive language

What is offensive language?

The offence of Offensive language is found at section 4A of the Summary Offences Act 1988.

Offensive language is one of the least serious criminal charges and is frequently dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record.

If you are charged with the offence of Offensive language, your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.

Pleading not guilty

You will be found not guilty of the offence of Offensive language if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt the following elements:

  1. You used offensive language; and
  2. Within hearing from a school or a public place.

Offensive language consists of behaviour calculated to wound the feelings, arouse anger or resentment or disgust or outrage in the mind of a reasonable person. The mere expression of political views, even when made in the proximity of the offices of those whose opinions or views are being attacked, does not, in my opinion, amount to offensive language.

In determining whether the offence of Offensive language has been committed, the relevant question is whether, if there had been an ordinary reasonable person in the street at the relevant time, that person could have seen and been offended by your conduct. The reasonable man is not thin-skinned.

What are defences to Offensive language?

It is a sufficient defence if you satisfy the court you had a reasonable excuse for conducting yourself in the manner alleged.

If the police are able to prove the above elements beyond reasonable doubt, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:

Contact our offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown or Redfern to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Offensive language.

Pleading guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence (and the police are able to prove so), it is best to plead guilty as you will normally receive a discount on sentence and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts or even a less serious charge.

Offensive language carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $660.00; however, this penalty is typically reserved for the worst offenders. Our solicitors have a proven track record of having the offence dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

Penalties that a court can impose in NSW are:

Why choose AC Law Group?

Our solicitors are experts at obtaining the best outcome possible for offensive language offences. For these offences, a good lawyer can be the difference between a conviction or clean record and freedom or gaol. To read more about AC Law Group, click here.

To discuss your Offensive language charge, call AC Law Group at our Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown and Redfern offices or make a website inquiry today.

Contact us to book a FREE first consultation

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