An offence of consorting under section 93X of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is committed by a person who regularly consorts with offenders who have been convicted of a crime.
The Offence of Consorting
According to section 93X of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), adults are prohibited from consorting with a criminal who has been convicted of a crime.
The definition of the offence in Section 93X is as follows:
- Habitually consorts with a convicted offender or person found guilty by a court, and
- Continued to consort with offenders after they got official warnings of the action.
Consorting is punishable by the following;
- Three years imprisonment, or
- Fines reaching 150 penalty units.
An offence of consorting is further defined in the subsection, particularly when the person;
- A consort is a group of at least two convicted offenders. It is not important whether they are consorting simultaneously or at different times.
- At least two meetings were held between the individual and the convicted offender.
A police officer or other legal authority may issue an official warning by section 93X when he or she:
- The person they consort with is a convicted offender, and
- Constantly consorting with convicted offenders is an offence.
An official warning ceases to take effect for various purposes, especially if it is given to a person;
- Under 18 years – 6 months after the accused person receives the warning.
- Two years after the warning is issued in any other case
Defence to Consorting offences
Despite the law, not all acts of association with a convicted person can be considered consorting. The accused could bring a defence to their actions if they can demonstrate their innocence through any of the activities they participate in;
- Where such actions were related to the operation of a lawful business or lawful employment
- Consorting occurs within an academy, in training or in education.
- The steps (regarding consorting) occur while providing healthcare or social services.
- If the act was during a legal service or for the administration of law
- Consorting occurs according to a court order or by legal practice.
- When the consorting occurs, the person provides transitional, immediate, or emergency services to the individual.
Likewise, it includes cases in which a staff member of the Parole Authority authorised the act that led to consorting.
Consorting offences can be caused by a variety of actions
Many actions constitute consorting if the person has a connection with convicted criminals. Some of these activities include;
- After receiving warnings from the Police, the individual meets with bikers, gangs, or groups.
- An employer who employs multiple repeat offenders.
In the case of consorting, what court is responsible?
Consorting offences are classified as minor offences or summary offences and are usually dealt with in the Local Court. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions may decide to have the matter heard in the District Court, depending on the facts of the case.
As a result, if the matter is decided in a Local Court, the defendant could be sentenced to two years in jail; otherwise, the court could commit the matter to a higher court for sentencing.
Terms used for consorting offences
If the Police issue you a summons for a charge against the consorting offence, you should attend the court date with your attorney. For all offences, the court utilizes various terms, so not knowing any of these terms can be quite a disadvantage.
In this section, the following terms are used:
In this case, The act of consorting refers to associating openly and intentionally with a person or entity. It can become an offence if such an association poses a threat or is potentially problematic.
A person who has been convicted or found guilty of an indictable offence other than consorting is included in this section. It does not matter how serious the crime is or what the sentence is.
Indictable offences are usually heard in District or higher courts, attracting stronger penalties and sentencing.
The Police, another arm of the judicial government, have the legal prerogative to warn a person consorting with a convicted offender. While warnings do not appear on a person’s criminal history, they may serve as admissible documents before a legal proceeding.
Offences relating to or constituting consorting
If the court determines that the accused is not guilty of consorting but rather of other charges (more or less severe), they will proceed to prosecute the person.
According to Division 5 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), individuals may be convicted of consorting offences when they commit crimes associated with criminal groups.
A criminal group is defined in Section 93S of the Act as;
A group of three or more people with the objectives of;
- Seeking again through any action that will constitute an indictable offence under the law.
- Any offence that would constitute an indictable offence in another territory for the reasons listed in (i) above may be committed elsewhere.
- Constituting or causing any serious violent crimes or offences
- The commission of any other act or the commission of serious or threatening violations would cause reasonable fear.
Serious violence offence
It is an offence of severe violence if a person commits an act that is punishable by life imprisonment or a term of ten years or more.
It includes such offence where it leads to the following;
- Loss of life to the person or severe risk to such,
- Serious injury to a person or such risk for the person.
- Leads to severe damage to the person’s property, especially in circumstances endangering safety.
This section includes people who may be a part of the criminal group under this section, whether they are members or not;
- They are subordinates or employees of any other member of the group,
- Only a few of the team members were involved in the notorious act that led to the offence.
- The membership of the group changed from time to time.
Participation in criminal groups
Those who participate in a criminal group are guilty of an offence that carries a five-year punishment under section 93T of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
It includes all cases where the accused person
- knows such group to be a criminal organisation or have such tendencies and objectives
- Knows that their participation in the group would cause an unlawful activity or incident.
Under this section, a person is also guilty if they attempted or participated significantly in the direction of such nefarious activities. This includes knowing such groups exist;
- Criminal, and
- Reckless as to the participation or occurrence of such group
The maximum penalty for this crime is ten years in prison.
Using violence as a means of committing a crime
The provisions of section 93T make assaulting another person to participate in any illegal activity of a criminal group a serious offence that carries a prison sentence of up to ten years and more if there is aggravation.
Intentionally destroying property in the course of committing a crime
The act of destroying any belonging or property of another person is considered an offence for which ten years of imprisonment is imposed. Such an act is directed towards joining a criminal organisation.
Assaulting a law officer
Attacking a law enforcement officer or any authorised person on duty to join a criminal activity is an offence that carries a prison sentence of 14 years.
Managing the activities of a criminal organisation
A person is guilty of an offence under Section 93T (Subsection 4A) if they direct the activities of an organized criminal group. The offence carries a potential penalty of 15 years imprisonment.
- Knows that it was a criminal group,
- It is reckless how their participation affects the occurrence of criminal activity.
By stating that a person may still participate in a criminal group despite not being a member, subsection 6 clarifies any other issue in this section.
Obtaining materials from criminal activities or groups
It is considered a serious crime if a person receives any material benefit from a criminal group through illegal activities.
- Such a group is a criminal group, and
- Is reckless as to the benefit they derive from the criminal group or its activities
It is an offence that incurs penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment.
In the court’s opinion, a person may also be guilty of consorting offences if they are associated with a criminal group.