It’s the end of the financial year. And we all know that such an occasion demands one thing, a massive party.
Well, perhaps not.
But whether dancing away your sorrows, or grooving to a good year, revellers and organisers should be aware of some of the laws surrounding events (which include parties). Partygoers would be forgiven for being unaware of some of the more recent amendments to Queensland criminal law that extends the powers of police and allows them to deal with out-of-control events.
An out-of-control event
The basic requirements for an event to be deemed out-of-control are:
- That there be 12 or more people gathered at the place;
- That three of more people associated with the event engage in conduct which is considered out-of-control; and
- That the conduct occurred at or near the event.
Out-of-control conduct is conduct that could cause people to be unable to move through, or peacefully be in, a public place. Alternatively it is conduct that causes a person to reasonably fear violence to somebody or damage to property.
Out-of-control conduct can therefore extend to activities such as fighting, causing an obstruction to pedestrians or traffic, public drunkenness, and the damaging of property.
Being associated with the event extends to include not only those persons who are at the event, but also individuals that are near the event and intending on going to the event, and individuals that are near the event and are leaving the event. It is not relevant to whether a person is associated with an event whether they were invited or not.
Police have broad powers that allow them to break up an out-of-control event. They are able to stop vehicles and enter premises without a warrant, and may give directions to persons to cease their current conduct and leave the area.
Police also maintain their existing powers, such as the ability to give noise abatement directions.
Police may also take any other step that an officer considers is reasonably necessary, given the situation.
Special offences exist for persons who cause an event to become out-of-control. This includes persons who commit the acts that cause the event to become out-of-control (for example the individuals destroying or damaging property), and also persons who organise an event that becomes out-of-control. If a person is organising an event they must take appropriate steps to avoid an event from becoming out-of-control, or they face the possibility of being charged should the event become out-of-control.
These special offences do not preclude a person being charged under any other existing law in addition to being charged under the out-of-control event provisions.
Costs orders are also a possibility if a person has been charged over an out-of-control event. The court may order a person who is found guilty of an offence that relates to an out-of-control event to pay a proportion or all of the costs associated with the police having to shut down and break up the event.
Exclusions to the laws regarding out-of-control events apply to certain events. These events include political advocacy, protest or industrial action events, authorised public assemblies, major sports events and others.