A public order offence includes offences like grafitti, behaving in offensive ways such as swearing and exposing oneself, protests, prostitution, spitting, public drunkenness or disorderly conduct, littering, begging and being told by police to move away from an area.
The main area of legislation that covers these offences is the Summary Offences Act 1996.
This Act under s.6 also empowers police with the ability to ‘move people along’ from public places. A failure to respond and comply with this direction can leave a person liable to an on the spot fine. This power is dependant on the area being a ‘public place’ defined in s.3. It includes wharfs, markets, public resorts, parks, railway stations etc.
They are empowered to do this if:
a) The person is or persons are breaching, or likely to breach, the peace; or
b) The person is or persons are endangering, or likely to endanger, the safety of any other person; or
c) The behaviour of the person or persons is likely to cause injury to person or damage to property or is otherwise a risk to public safety.
Furthermore police have the power to issue on the spot fine for offences such as littering, swearing, offensive behavior, consuming alcohol on unlicensed premises and failure to leave licensed premises when requested.
A person can be charged with grafitti offences under ss.7-9 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) or under the Crimes Act 1958 Division 3. Both these offences relate to criminal damage, and a person can be charged with both these offences and the offences created by the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007.
The Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 also contains extremely high fines and terms of imprisonment for grafitti. Section 5 and s.6 allows for a maximum of 2 years imprisonment (Level 7) for making grafitti. Sale of aerosol paint cans also cannot be made to persons under the age of 18 years of age under s.10 of the Act and there are limits to retailer’s abilities to advertise aerosol paint cans.
Furthermore, police force members can search people without a warrant under s.13 provided that:
a) a person has in his or her possession a prescribed graffiti implement on property, or in a place, referred to in section 7(1); and
b) relevant evidence is likely to be lost or destroyed if a search is delayed until a search warrant is obtained; and
c) the person is 14 years of age or more.
If you have been found possessing graffiti, have been charged with graffiti offences or have had your person or house searched for graffiti it is highly advisable to contact Grigor Lawyers especially considering the potential penalties of the Graffiti Prevention Act. Grigor Lawyers can can advise and represent you in these matters.