What is Consorting ?
Consorting is a charge laid when the Police think that you, on a regular basis, associate with someone who the Police think is involved in organised crime or who has been convicted of an organised crime offence. Before you can be charged with consorting the police must give you one warning.
Examples of Consorting include:
- Your friend was convicted of organising illegal prostitution or pornography and you often speak to this friend;
- The police think that your friend is involved in a drug gang and you often meet up with this friend; and/or
The police think that your friend is involved in an outlaw Motorcycle gang and you often meet up with this friend.
An offence of consorting is what is known as a Table 2 offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made for trial on indictment.
The nature and elements of consorting were considered in Johanson v Dixon(1979) 143 CLR 376.
The word “consort” means to “associate “or “keeps company” and denotes some acceptance of the association. There is no need for the prosecution to prove any particular purpose of the consorting.
What must the prosecution prove?
Since consorting is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.
The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Consorting.
To establish consorting, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:
- You habitually consorted with a convicted offender; and
- You did so after being given an “Official Warning” in relation to those convicted offenders
Section 93X of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides that a person who:
(a) habitually consorts with convicted offenders ; and
(b) consorts with those convicted offenders after having been given an official warning in relation to each of those convicted offenders,is guilty of an offence.
If you are charged with the offence of consorting what are your options?
National Criminal Lawyers have been successful in defending a number of consorting charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of the offence. We have also achieved a number of non-convictions for consorting charges.
NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with consorting;
- We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”);
- NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial;
- Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing); and/or
- Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf seeking a non-conviction by the Court.
Fequently Asked Questions
If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the element of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.
Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.
Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.
Consorting can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) or up to 3 years (If heard in the District Court) or a fine of 16,500, or both.
Please note that the penalties mentioned are reserved for the worse case offending and are unlikely to be the penalty you receive.
If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.
A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.
National Criminal Lawyers have defended numerous people charged with Consorting and are experts at these hearings.
Some of the possible defences available for those charged with consorting can include:
- Lawful purpose;
If the defendant satisfies the court that the consorting was reasonable in the circumstances, then they will be found not guilty:
- consorting with family members,
- consorting that occurs in the course of lawful employment or the lawful operation of a business,
- consorting that occurs in the course of training or education,
- consorting that occurs in the course of the provision of a health service,
- consorting that occurs in the course of the provision of legal advice,
- consorting that occurs in lawful custody or in the course of complying with a court order.
- If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue- Duress.
- If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of-Necessity.
In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Consorting charge.
- Prison sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention)
- Suspended sentence
- Community service order (CSO)
- Good behaviour bond
- Section 10
However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:
- Full time Imprisonment
- New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available
- New Community Correction Order (CCO)
- New Conditional release Order (CRO)
Our client was an itinerant man with terminal and chronic pancreatitis. He had been warned by police for consorting with three people while sitting and talking with them on park benches, at Petersham Oval. At his sentencing hearing, the locations were described by our lawyer as ‘places where homeless people hang out’. We subsequently advised the court: “He is ostensibly an itinerant man with significant medical problems. The magistrate noted that the criminal histories of the three people our client had been warned about consorting with did not contain serious indictable offences. Our client as such received a 12 month bond to be ‘of good behaviour’ under section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
Why National Criminal Lawyers?
There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:
1. Your best chance to get the result you’re after
We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.
2. How a Senior Defence Lawyer Can Help You Deal With Criminal Charges
No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.
3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights
At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.
If you have been charged with any consorting offence our Team and National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.
Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.