Escape From Custody (SA)
In South Australia, offence relating to escaping from lawful custody are set out in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935. These offences are serious and can attract significant terms of imprisonment. This page deals with escape from custody offences in South Australia.
What is custody?
To be found guilty of an escape from custody offence, a person must be proven to have been in lawful custody. If a person’s arrest or detention was unlawful, they have a defence to this charge. Custody includes police custody in a public place as well as imprisonment in a correctional centre or watch house or detention in a detention centre.
What is escape?
For a court to find someone guilty of escaping from custody, it must be satisfied that their actions amounted to escape. The person must be proven to have known that they were not free to leave and to have voluntarily and deliberately withdrawn from custody. They must have become free from the person or place that was restricting their freedom.
Escape from lawful custody
Under section 254 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, a person commits an offence if they:
- Escape from custody; or
- Remain unlawfully at large
This offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.
A sentence that is imposed for the offence of escaping from custody must be made cumulative on any other term of imprisonment or detention that the person must serve.
A person who assists another person to escape or to attempt to escape from custody knowing or being recklessly indifferent as to whether they are in lawful detention or removes the person from custody is also guilty of this offence.
A person who has custody of another person and releases, attempts to release, or permits the person to escape from, that custody is also guilty of this offence.
Harbouring or employing escapee
Under section 255 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, a person who harbours or employs another person or assists a person to remain at large knowing or being recklessly indifferent as to whether they have escaped from custody commits an offence punishable by imprisonment for four years.
Escape from custody is a major indictable offence that can only be dealt in the District Court or Supreme Court.
Pleading guilty to escaping from custody
If you have been charged with an offence relating to escaping from custody, seek legal advice before pleading guilty. Before you decide to plead guilty, you should consider whether the prosecution can prove all the elements of the offence, whether there are any defences available to you, and what the likely penalty range is in your situation.
If you have been charged with an escape from custody offence, you may have an available defence. This may be:
- That your arrest or detention was not lawful
- That your actions did not amount to escape
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.