Trespass Offences in the ACT
Trespass on Territory land
Under section 4 of the Trespass On Territory Land Act 1932, a person commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, they enter:
- Unleased Territory land where a notice is posted prohibiting trespass; or
- That is in the city area and has a dwelling house on it and is delineated on subdivisional plans held by the Territory;
- Any garden, plantation or afforestation area on Territory land.
This offence is punishable by a fine of up to five penalty units.
Trespass offences involving animals
There are also offences involving animals trespassing on land in the ACT.
Under section 4A of the Trespass on Territory Land Act 1932, a person commits an offence if they are the owner of an animal that is found wandering, straying or at large on a road or on unleased Commonwealth land.
Under section 4B of the Trespass on Territory Land Act 1932, a person commits an offence if they turn loose or allow an animal to be tethered or to graze on a road or unleased Commonwealth land.
These offences are both punishable by a fine of up to five penalty units.
Trespass on Commonwealth land
Under section 89 of the Crimes Act 1914, a person commits an offence if they trespass on Commonwealth land without a lawful excuse.
It is also an offence under this section to fail to provide your name and address when asked to do so while trespassing on Commonwealth land.
These offences carry a penalty of a fine of 10 penalty units.
Trespass by cattle
Under section 90 of the Crimes Act 1914, a person commits an offence if they allow cattle or livestock to stray onto Commonwealth land.
This offence is punishable by a fine of one penalty unit.
Penalty for trespass offences
A person who is found guilty of one of the above offences may receive a fine, or a lesser penalty such as a good behaviour order.
Will I get a conviction?
When a person is found guilty of a criminal offence, a conviction is usually recorded. Under section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005, a court may find a person guilty of an offence without recording a conviction if it is appropriate given:
- The offenders character, age, antecedents and health;
- The seriousness of the offence;
- Any extenuating circumstances.
When a court deals with a person without recording a conviction, it may dismiss the charge without imposing a penalty or make a good behaviour order.
If a court imposes a more severe penalty such as a fine or a term of imprisonment, it must record a conviction.
Defences to trespass
A person charged with trespass may have a legal defence available to them. Some of the defences applicable to trespass are outlined briefly below.
Sudden and extraordinary emergency
A person is not guilty of an offence if they trespass because of an emergency situation- for example, to take shelter from extreme weather or to get away from an attacker.
Mistake of fact
A person is not guilty of an offence if they trespass because they mistakenly believe that the land is land that they are permitted to enter.
A person is not guilty of an offence if they enter land for a legitimate purpose such as delivering mail or arresting a person.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.