offensive language lawyers central coast newcastle

Offensive language or conduct offences are measured in relation to the circumstances surrounding the event at the time. This includes (but is not limited to) the phrases or words used, the people present, the place and the time. The mere use of a swear word does not make it offensive.

Police may charge people for offensive language, particularly when the words f**k or c**t is used. However, in circumstances when Police charge someone only to maintain order and command authority, this may be a wrongful exercise of their discretionary police power.

What are the applicable penalties?

  • For offensive conduct, the penalties are $660 and/or 3-months imprisonment.
  • For offensive language, the maximum penalty is a $660 fine.

Both are considered Summary Offences which means they are dealt with in the Local Court by a Magistrate in the absence of a Judge and Jury.

What must the prosecution prove?

The Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that: -

  • The conduct or language would cause offence in the mind of the reasonable person, and;
  • That offensive conduct or language could be seen or heard in a public place or school.

Who is this ‘reasonable person’?

The “reasonable person” is a fictional person used by judges to determine whether conduct is reasonable according to current community standards. In the area of offensive language and conduct, the Courts have emphasised that the reasonable person is ‘not easily shocked, but rather is largely tolerant (if not permissive), understanding, secular, and contemporary in his reactions’.

What is a ‘public place’?

A ‘public place’ is defined as a place (whether or not covered by water), or a part of premises that is open to the public, or is used by the public whether or not on payment of money or other consideration, whether or not the place or part is ordinarily so open or used and whether or not the public to whom it is open consists only of a limited class of persons.

This will include parks, roads, beaches, shopping centres, movie theatres and licensed premises.

What defences are available?

The defence of ‘reasonable excuse’ exists if you can prove that you had a reasonable excuse for your alleged offensive conduct or language. Examples of this have included cases where the accused has sworn reflexively. In one instance, the accused swore when a heavy implement was dropped on their foot, while in another case, the accused swore when suddenly provoked to anger.

What if I plead guilty?

If you enter an early plea of guilty to the offence, you may be entitled to a discount on your sentence. We would recommend this course if the facts overwhelmingly favour your conduct or language being declared as offensive.

The Magistrate may choose to impose a Conditional Release Order with or without a conviction or a Community Correction Order with or without a fine.

What if I plead not guilty?

If you choose to plead not guilty, your criminal defence lawyer will put forward submissions to argue that your conduct or language was not offensive or that you had a reasonable excuse for doing/saying what you did.


USE OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE in or near a public place or a school - (LPC: 1246)
Summary Offences Act 1988, Section 4A(1)  
Maximum Penalty:
Infringement Notice System: A fine of $500.
Local Court: A fine of $660.

USE OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE in or on public passenger vehicle or train or public area - (LPC: 90591)
Passenger Transport (General) Regulation 2017, Section 50(b)  
Maximum Penalty:
Infringement Notice System: A fine of $400. 
Local Court: A fine of $1,100.
Supreme Court (Summary Jurisdiction): A fine of $1,100.

BEHAVE IN OFFENSIVE MANNER in or near a public place
Summary Offences Act 1988, Section 4(1)  
Maximum Penalty:
Infringement Notice System: A fine of $500.
Local Court: 3 months imprisonment and or a fine of $660.

OFFENSIVE CONDUCT while upon any Inclosed lands (prescribed premises) of another person - (LPC: 26637)
Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901, Section 4A(1)(a)  
Maximum Penalty:
Infringement Notice System: A fine of $250.
Local Court: A fine of $2,200.
Supreme Court (Summary Jurisdiction): A fine of $2,200.

OFFENSIVE CONDUCT while upon any Inclosed lands (non-prescribed premises) of another person - (LPC: 3327)
Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901, Section 4A(1)(b)  
Maximum Penalty:
Infringement Notice System: A fine of $250.
Local Court: A fine of $1,100. Supreme Court (Summary Jurisdiction): A fine of $1,100.

We are here to help

You shouldn’t feel compelled to plead guilty to a charge of offensive conduct and/or language without a proper analysis of your case. This is a tricky legal area where a lot depends on the interpretation of words and their meaning. You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, your prospects of a fair and just outcome are increased when you obtain legal assistance.

Fourtree Lawyers have extensive experience assisting clients on the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Hunter Region and Sydney with matters related to Offensive Language / Conduct in Court. Our lawyers can explain and guide you through the entire Court process and work with you to minimise the legal ramifications of your offence. Instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf will ensure you fully understand your position and your options. It will assist you in getting the best possible results for your particular case.

Contact our Central Coast Lawyers on 1300 529 444 as soon as possible. The earlier we can start building a strong case for you, the better your chance of getting a good outcome.



  • Kevin and Jane are without a doubt 100% there to support you through Your whole ordeal reassuring you all the way My experience from finding Fourtree Lawyers on Google in a fairly unsure position, reading the reviews to the successful outcomes was the only referral I had, believe me when I say you will be happy with their experience in all fields of law which is insurmountable and they will obtain the best favourable outcome in any circumstance. Fourtree Lawyers are there for you to bring things back into perspective...

    RS - Port Macquarie

  • “Kevin and Jane were my “knights in shining armour.” I can’t thank these two people enough. They gave their everything and most important believed me when I told them my story. I am forever grateful for their professional attitude and for giving 100% to free me from my nightmare. I was able to plead guilty but also most importantly was not forced to lie and compromise my integrity and own personal values and standards. I was very happy with the outcome and the way I was treated. They communicated constantly...

    VR - Charmhaven

  • Had the most amazing experience with Fourtree Lawyers kevin vierboom who represented my partner was helpful and understanding and we got a great result better then expected ? jane hogan, I was so blessed to have her by my side. They are an amazing team and i would recommend them to everyone also great value for money. Especially considering i only called the morning of the court case and they were all over it at my bek and call thankyou so much guys im so appreciative for all your help today

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Court Results


Affray, ABH, Common Assault, Behave in an offensive manner | Intensive Corrections Order | Newcastle Local Court

Our client is a 30-year-old male who lives with his father and acts as his primary caregiver. Our client entered an independent grocery store intoxicated and had an argument with a group of young persons whom he chased from the store. He then had an altercation with a staff member and a bystander.

Police stopped our client after leaving the location and he was charged with Assault, Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, Common Assault, Behave in Offensive Manner and Affray. In the Local Court, the maximum penalty for ABH and Common Assault is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. For Behave in Offensive Manner the max. penalty is 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $660 and for Affray, the max penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $11,000.

After an initial adjournment for a sentencing assessment report, solicitor Erin Nulty attended Newcastle Court and made extensive written and oral submissions to the Magistrate. After considering the submissions and supporting documents, the Magistrate sentenced our client to a 24-month term of imprisonment to be served by way of Intensive Corrections Order for the ABH and Affray.

The other two charges were dismissed. Our client was overwhelmed with the outcome as he had a genuine chance of going to jail. He has taken steps to begin dealing with his alcohol issues.


No conviction CRO – Resist Officer in Execution of Duty & Behave in an Offensive Manner – Downing Centre Local Court – 04/10/2018

Our client is a 41-year-old male who lives on the Central Coast with his wife and 3 children. He is self-employed, running a business as a shopfitter/cabinetmaker. Our client had been for an outing to the football in Sydney and became embroiled in an incident with another spectator.

Our client was charged with behaving in an offensive manner in/near/a public place and Resisting an officer in execution of duty. The resist officer offence carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and $5,500. Solicitor Denise McCarthy made submissions to the Magistrate as to our client’s remorse, his previous good character, unblemished record and contribution to the community.

The Magistrate found our client guilty of the offence; however, without proceeding to conviction, ordered him to enter into a Conditional Release Order with an 18-month good behaviour bond. This is similar to a Section 10(1)(b) under the new sentencing reforms. Our client was extremely relieved to maintain their clean criminal record and finally put this unfortunate incident behind them.

Client Reviews

From the first phone conversation Fourtrees gave us the confidence and reassurance that that our matter would be handled with professionalism and an outcome we were hoping for. The submissions given outlined how we felt and defended our matter perfectly. We couldn’t be happier with the care and comfort we received. We would recommend Fourtrees to anyone needing legal advice & will use Fourtrees for all and any of our future legal matters.