Queensland has laws to deal with out-of-control events that may cause fear of violence or property damage. They give police wide powers to shut down events that are, or may become out-of-control; and make it an offence to organise an out-of-control event or to cause an event to become out-of-control.
If you’re charged with an offence relating to an out-of-control event, you should get legal advice.
An out-of-control event is where 12 or more people are gathered together at a place, and 3 or more people associated with the event engage in out-of-control conduct at or near the event.
The following events are excluded from the out-of-control event laws:
- a licensed event (eg an event held at licensed premises)
- a major event
- an event that is primarily for political advocacy, protest or industrial action
- an authorised public assembly
- any event held at a major sports facility
- an event prescribed by legislation.
Out-of-control conduct is any behaviour that would cause a person at or near an event to reasonably fear violence to a person or damage to property; or to reasonably believe that this behaviour could stop someone from moving through, or peacefully being in a public place.
Out-of-control conduct includes:
- unlawfully entering or remaining in a place or threatening to enter a place
- behaving in a disorderly, offensive, threatening or violent way (eg using offensive, obscene, indecent, abusive or threatening language or taking part in a fight)
- assaulting or threatening to assault a person
- destroying or damaging property, or threatening to do so
- exposing your genitals or doing an indecent act
- causing or contributing to excessive noise (eg loud music or noise from a motor vehicle not on a road)
- driving a motor vehicle in a way that causes a burn out
- unlawfully lighting fires or using fireworks
- throwing things in a way that endangers, or is likely to endanger the life, health or safety of a person
- unreasonably obstructing the path of a vehicle or pedestrian
- littering in a way that causes or may cause harm to a person, property or the environment
- being intoxicated in a public place
- doing things that are otherwise an offence under Part 6 Liquor Act such as supplying a minor with alcohol or consuming liquor on a road (there are many offences included under Part 6 Liquor Act. Legal advice should be obtained)
- committing a drug offence.
Being ‘associated’ with an event
A person is associated with an event if they are:
- at the event, or
- near the event and a police officer reasonably suspects they are either intending to go to the event or leaving the event.
A person can be associated with an event whether they were invited to attend the event or not. It isn't an offence to be associated with an event; however, police police have the power to disperse persons associated with the event. If you contravene a direction given by a police officer, you can be charged with an offence.
What can the police do about out-of-control events?
If a police officer reasonably believes that an event is out-of-control, or is likely to become out-of-control, they may be authorised to use wide powers to shut down or break-up the event or stop it from moving to another location. They can also take action to identify the person who organised the event or who is causing an event to become out-of-control.
A police officer may:
- stop a vehicle or enter a place without a warrant
- give a person or people a direction to:
- stop any out-of-control conduct
- leave a place immediately
- not return to a place within a certain period of time (unless the person/s lives there) or
- take any other steps that they consider reasonably necessary.
If you disobey a direction given by a police officer in these circumstances, you may be charged with an offence. Get legal advice.
Being charged with 'organising' an out-of-control event
It’s an offence to organise an event if it becomes an out-of-control event.
If the person who organised the event is a child, their parents or guardians may be held liable for the offence if they gave the child permission to organise the event.
It’s a defence to prove that you took reasonable steps to prevent the event becoming out-of-control (eg by hiring security or ending the event as soon as possible after people who were not invited to the event tried to enter). You should get legal advice about whether you have a defence.
Being charged with 'causing' an out-of-control event
You may be charged with causing an out-of-control event if:
- were refused entry to an event and
- you engage in out-of-control conduct near the event and
- as a result of your conduct, you cause it to become an out-of-control event.
You can be charged with causing an out-of-control event even if someone else’s behaviour also contributed to the event becoming out-of-control.
You should get legal advice.
If you’re found guilty of an offence relating to an out-of-control event, the court may order you to pay some or all of the costs incurred by the police for shutting down or breaking up the event. You should get legal advice.
If your child is found guilty of an offence relating to an out-of-control event and they are unable to pay the costs, then you may be held liable for some or all of the costs incurred by the police for shutting down or breaking up the event.
You should get legal advice.
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if you have been:
- charged with organising an out-of-control event
- charged with causing an out-of-control event
- ordered to pay costs incurred by the police to shut down an out-of-control event.
How to get legal advice
We may give legal advice about out-of-control events. We can’t provide a lawyer to attend a police interview with you.
The following organisations may also be able to give you legal advice:
Community legal centres may give free preliminary legal advice and information on some criminal law matters. Most don’t provide legal representation. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.
The Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice and representation.
If you’re charged with an offence, you should ask police prosecutions for a copy of your Queensland Police form 9 (QP9) — this is a written summary of the police version of why you were charged and what happened. You should get your QP9 before getting legal advice. You can get your QP9 from the police prosecutor on your first court date (the duty lawyer may be able to help you). If you can’t collect it on your first court date you’ll need to apply to police prosecutions for a copy. You’ll need to make a written request and show photo ID.
Who else can help?
These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.
The Department of Justice and Attorney-General gives information about going to court to help defendants and witnesses.
Queensland Courts provides information about the:
- Supreme Court
- Court of Appeal
- District Court
- Magistrates Court
- Coroners Court
- Childrens Court of Queensland
- Land Court.