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Participating in a criminal organisation

Queensland has tough laws about participating in criminal organisations.

A criminal organisation is an organisation of 3 or more persons:

  • who have as their purpose or one of their purposes, engaging in, organising, planning, facilitating, supporting, or otherwise conspiring to engage in, serious criminal activity, and
  • who by their association, represent an unacceptable risk to the safety, welfare or order of the community.

The court can make a declaration that an organisation is a criminal organisation.

Can I be charged for associating with other members of a criminal organisation?

Yes. The court can make a control order when sentencing a person for particular offences who was a participant in a criminal organisation.

A control order may contain conditions the court considers appropriate to protect the public and considered necessary to enforce the order.  For example, conditions might prohibit you from associating with other members, possessing weapons or going to certain places.

You can go to jail for contravening a control order. You should get legal advice.

Can I be charged for recruiting people into a criminal organisation?

Yes. It is an offence for any person who is a participant in a criminal organisation or subject to a control order, to recruit or attempt to recruit anyone to become a participant in a criminal organisation. You can go to jail for this kind of offence. You should get legal advice.

Can I be charged for associating with recognised offenders?

Yes. You can be charged if you are an adult and you habitually consort (ie seek out or accept the other person’s company on at least two occasions) with at least 2 recognised offenders (together or separately) and at least one of the two occasions you consort occurs after you have been given an official warning for consorting in relation to the offender.

Can the police force me to identify myself?

The police can generally ask you to give your name and address especially where they reasonably suspect that you have broken the law. A police officer must warn you that it's an offence not to give the police officer your correct name and address. See Do I have to talk to the police?

If a police officer reasonably suspects that you have consorted, are consorting, or are likely to consort with one or more recognised offenders they can also require you to give your name and address.   

Will I get a longer sentence if I’m deemed to be a participant in a criminal organisation?

If you are deemed to be a participant in a criminal organisation, you may be subject to harsher penalties for certain types of offences. You should get legal advice.

In recent years, very harsh laws have come into effect in relation to serious organised crime.  There are harsh penalties for people who commit prescribed offences. There are extremely harsh penalties for people who commit prescribed offences committed with a serious organised crime circumstance of aggravation.  These include lengthy mandatory jail terms that must be served entirely in jail.  That is, you can’t get parole.

What about if I want to cooperate with police?

The mandatory jail terms may not be imposed in certain situations.  You should get legal advice.

What is a public safety order?

A court, and certain police officers, can make a public safety order in relation to an event, or attendance at particular premises or within an area, to stop a person attending within the area or attending the event.

It's an offence for someone to contravene a public safety order, for example, by attending an event the subject of the order.

You can go to jail for knowingly contravening a public safety order without a reasonable excuse. You should get legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you are or have ever been associated with a criminal organisation
  • any members of your family or close friends have ever been associated with a criminal organisation
  • you are charged with a criminal offence and it is alleged it was committed with a serious organised crime circumstance of aggravation.

Get legal advice

We may give legal advice about offences related to participating in a criminal organisation, control orders, and consorting.

If you’ve been charged with a serious offence you should apply for legal aid (if you’re eligible), or find a private lawyer rather than wait for a legal advice booking.  We can't provide you with a lawyer to attend a police interview.

The following organisations may be able to give you legal advice.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Important: Before seeking legal advice about a criminal charge, you should collect your QP9 from the police prosecutor at your first court date. If you were unable to collect it at your first court date, you should apply to the police/prosecutions office for your QP9. You will need to present photo identification and a written request to the police prosecutor. Contact your local police station if you are unsure where to apply.

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to help with your matter. They don't give legal advice.

Department of Justice and Attorney-General provide information about going to court to help defendants and witnesses.

Queensland Courts information on all courts in Queensland including magistrates court and Childrens court of Queensland.

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