The Law Surrounding Offensive Language
Section 4A(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) makes it an offence to use offensive language in, near, or within hearing from a public place or school.
Accordingly, in order to prove that you are guilty of this offence, the following conditions must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt:
- That you used offensive language.
- That it was in, near, or within hearing from a:
- Public place; or
What is considered as “offensive language”?
What is considered “offensive” is difficult to determine. This is due to several factors including, but not limited to, evolving community standards, nature of the language, and circumstances in which the language was used.
It is therefore important that you speak with a lawyer as they will be able to provide you with information as to whether the language you used may be considered to be “offensive” by the courts.
What is considered as a “Public Place”?
“Public Place” is defined in the legislation as a place or part of premises that is:
- Open to the public; or
- Used by the public, and it does not matter if:
- Payment of money, or some other consideration, is required for entry,
- The place or part of it is ordinarily so open or used,
- The public to whom it is open consists only of a select class of people but does not include a school.
What is considered a school?
In the legislation, “School” is defined as:
A government school, or a registered non-government school within the definition of the Education Act 1990; and
- Provides education (whether secular or religious) at:
- Pre-school or infant’s school level,
- Primary level,
- Secondary level; and
- The place is used for the purposes of an establishment commonly known as a child-minding centre or for similar purposes; and
- The land, and any building, occupied by or in connection with the conduct of such a school or place.
It does not include any building that is:
- Occupied or used solely as a residence; or
- Solely for a purpose unconnected with the conduct of the school or place.
What are the penalties for use offensive language?
The penalties for offensive language are:
- Fine of up to $660.00; or
- The Court may make a Community Correction Order which will require you to perform Unpaid Community Service Work for a up to 100 hours.
A sufficient defence for offensive language is provided for in the legislation under Section 4A(2) of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW). If you have a reasonable excuse as to why you used offensive language at the time of the alleged offence, then you may be acquitted of the offence.
Additionally, depending on your personal circumstances, other defences may be available to you. Therefore, it is crucial that a lawyer assists with your matter so that you understand what defences may be available to you.
How JB Solicitors Can Help You
JB Solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with offensive language offences and are readily available to meet your legal needs. As your legal representatives, we will provide you with accurate advice so that you can achieve the best possible outcome for your personal circumstance.
To find out how we can help you, please feel free to contact us.