Habitually Consorting With Offenders (Qld)

 In Queensland, it is an offence to habitually consort with recognized offenders. This offence was introduced in 2016 and is contained in section 77B of the Crimes Act 1899. This page deals with the offence of consorting with offenders in Queensland.

The offence

Under section 77B, a person commits an offence if:

  • They habitually consort with two or more recognized offenders, whether together or separately; and
  • They consort with each recognized offender at least once after being given an official warning in relation to the offender.

This offence is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to 300 penalty units.

What is a recognized offender?

A person is a recognized offender if they have a recorded conviction for a relevant offence. Relevant offences are any indictable offence with a maximum penalty of at least five years imprisonment or a number of other offence that are associated with organized crime and set out in section 77 of the Criminal Code 1899, including the following:

  • Riot
  • Going armed so as to cause fear
  • Threatening violence
  • Habitually consorting with recognized offenders
  • Knowingly participating in prostitution
  • Deprivation of liberty
  • Assault with intent to steal
  • Demanding property with menaces

The recorded conviction must not be a spent conviction.

What is consorting?

Under section 77A of the Criminal Code 1899, a person consorts with another person if they seek our or accept the other person’s company either in person or in another way. In order to amount to consorting, a person’s association with another person need not have a purpose related to a criminal activity.

What is not consorting?

The laws relating to consorting do not apply to children.

When a person is prosecuted for consorting, the court is not to take into account the following acts if they were reasonable in the circumstances:

  • Consorting with a recognized offender who is a close family member;
  • Conducting a lawful business or engaging in lawful employment or occupation;
  • Receiving education or training at an educational institution;
  • Obtaining education or training for one’s child at an educational institution;
  • Receiving a health service;
  • Obtaining legal services;
  • Complying with a court order;
  • Being detained in lawful custody.

Why was the law introduced?

The offence was introduced to address outlawed motorcycle gangs and replaced the old anti-association offence contained in section 60A of the Criminal Code, which had never resulted in a conviction. It followed the introduction of a consorting offence in New South Wales. At the time the Queensland legislation was passed, the New South Wales offence had resulted in two convictions and had also withstood a constitutional challenge.

Responses to the laws

The laws have been criticized as having the potential to waste a lot of public money prosecuting people for acts that consist only of having social contact with people with criminal records. They have also been criticized as being capable of being applied to people who are not involved in organized crime but merely have a single conviction for a relevant offence. Lawyers and human rights advocates have also argued that the law is misused as a vehicle to prevent association rather than to combat organized crime.

The Queensland Police say that the laws have been used to target gang members, disrupt bikie meetings and dismantle criminal networks.

The laws are currently under review by former District Court Judge Julie Dick SC.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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