Planning A House Party? How To Make Sure You Don’t Get A Knock At The Door.

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Planning A House Party? How To Make Sure You Don’t Get A Knock At The Door.

Is your birthday coming up?

Have you finished exams?

Or are you just looking to party with your friends?

There is no doubt that many Australians choose to celebrate milestones by partying at home. It is convenient, less expensive, and allows you to kick your feet up at the end of the night.

However, it is important that the host and party guests are aware of their legal obligations before, during and after a house party. What exactly are your legal obligations? We’re glad you asked.

Here is the information YOU need to know before hosting or attending a house party.

BEFORE

Inform your local police station that you are intending to host a party at your home. A Party Registration Form can be accessed online and must be lodged 72 hours prior to the party being held. If the party is in less than 3 days, contact your local police station directly by phone or in person to ensure the information is received.

Inform your neighbours on the date and time of the party and provide your contact number in the event of an emergency. Consider how many guests you are inviting. If majority of the guests are young persons, including minors, think about asking responsible adults to assist with supervising the party.

DURING

Supply of Alcohol

If your guests are under the age of 18-years-old, you must not supply them with alcohol.

Pursuant to Section 117 of the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW), supplying alcohol to minors (under 18) at a house party is a criminal offence because it is not consistent with responsible supervision. Maximum penalties include a $11,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment.

Noise Complaints

The most frequently asked question when it comes to house parties is noise! Noise complaints are most likely the reason why police are called to a house party.

Section 58 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 (NSW) states that a person is guilty of an offence if they use electronically amplified sound equipment:

 i.   Before 8 am or after midnight on any Friday, Saturday or day immediately before a public holiday, or

ii.   Before 8 am or after 10 pm on any other day.

Electronically amplified sound equipment includes television sets and home entertainment systems.

HOWEVER, police officers that attend your home must first provide the host with a warning not to use the sound equipment on the premises in that particular manner. If the person continues to use the sound equipment within 28 days after that warning, they may be charged with an offence.

The maximum penalty for breaching Section 58 is a $5,500 fine for individuals.

For further information on noise produced by other instruments, click here for restriction details in NSW.

Stealing

Party hosts must also take care of valuable items when inviting a large number of guests.

Section 148 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states that stealing property from a dwelling-house is a criminal offence. A dwelling-house is any building or structure that a person occupies or is capable of being occupied. Property refers to any real or personal property including money, valuable items and instruments relating to land title.

The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment (in the Local Court) and 7 years imprisonment (in the District Court).

Example: Steven is invited to Jane’s house for her birthday party. On the way to the bathroom, Steven notices a gold necklace and $100 cash sitting on Jane’s dressing table. Steven takes the piece of jewellery and money and leaves the party with both items in his pocket. In this scenario, Steven has breached Section 148 and may be charged with a criminal offence.

* Steven and Jane are false names for the purpose of this blog only.

Damage to Property

If a guest intentionally or recklessly causes malicious damage to a home, he/she may be charged with a criminal offence under Section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). What exactly is malicious damage?

Case Study: Hammond v R [2013] NSWCCA 93

The case of Hammond discusses the Court’s interpretation of malicious damage. Ultimately, “damage” refers to permanent and temporary physical harm or impairment of value or usefulness. This means that an act may constitute malicious damage even if the damage is not permanent, so long as it interferes with the function of the property one way or another.

The maximum penalty for destroying or damaging property is 2 years imprisonment (in the Local Court) and 5 years imprisonment (in the District Court).

HOWEVER, if you are in the company of another person who destroys or damages property, even if you do not touch that property, you may face a higher penalty of 6 years imprisonment (in the District Court). If the destruction or damage is caused by fire or the use of explosives, the maximum penalty is 10 years for the person who caused the damage and 11 years for a person in their company (in the District Court).

Gatecrashers

There is no specific law which states that gatecrashing a house party is a criminal offence. It is possible that their actions may fall under trespassing as stated in the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (NSW). However, without an additional offence, such as damage to property, gatecrashers are unlikely to be charged.

Do you believe that legislation should specifically address gatecrashers?

AFTER

As a host, it is strongly encouraged that you ask your guests how they intend to travel home after the party. As a guest, it is crucial that you devise two plans for travelling home if you are over 18-years-old and intend to consume alcohol.

For example, you might decide on the following:

PLAN A – Drive yourself to and from the party.

PLAN B – If you have one too many drinks, do not take the risk of getting behind the wheel. You may choose to go home with a friend who has not been drinking or call a friend/family member to pick you up. Alternatives include ordering an uber or splitting a taxi with other party guests who live near you.   

Drink driving is a criminal offence under the Roads Transport Act 2013 (NSW). Since 20 May 2019, NSW police officers may issue a $561 on-the-spot fine and an immediate 3-month license suspension for persons caught drink driving. These penalties will be issued even if you are a first-time offender and found to be in the low-range of drink driving. For a discussion on the ranges of drink driving, see Re: Application by Attorney-General (No. 3 of 2002) (2004) 61 NSWLR 305).

Whilst the aim of harsher penalties is to reduce road fatalities, the implemented changes have been criticised for deterring “first-time low-range PCA offenders in going to court”.

Do you believe that a zero-tolerance policy provides greater deterrence?

Or is there a greater benefit for the offender to appear before Court and directed to the Traffic Offender Program where they learn the consequences of future offending? 

CONTACT US

We are interested to hear your thoughts. To discuss this blog further, contact our office to speak with our experienced team. If you have been charged with any of the offences mentioned above, click here to contact National Criminal Lawyers® for the best defenders of your rights.

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
CONTACT US! 02 9893 1889

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