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Criminal Law In Australia: What you need to know


Criminal laws are put in place to protect the public from harm. They are also put in place to protect the criminal as well. But different countries and even states have different criminal laws. Here, we’ll discuss the criminal laws that are set in place by the Australian government.


The laws in Australia are differentiated into non-criminal and criminal laws, where the non-criminal laws consist of civil and contract laws.


Criminal laws in Australia aren’t the same in every area. But there are some laws that are applicable to all areas in the country. The basic foundation for criminal laws in Australia had been laid during the British rule. As the years passed by, these laws evolved.


There are areas in Australia that come under ‘common law jurisdictions’ and ‘code jurisdictions’. The difference between them is that in common law jurisdictions serve criminal law that hasn’t wholly been changed from the English common law whereas the code jurisdictions serve criminal law that has been changed.


The states that come under common law jurisdictions are South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. A problem with criminal laws in common law jurisdiction is the fact that the offence isn’t broadly defined.


The states that come under code jurisdictions are Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The offences here are clearly defined and aren’t unclear.


In New South Wales, there is the Summary Offences Act 1988 statue that deals with offences such as child sex offender loitering, offensive conduct, possession of a knife, and obscene exposure in courts. With the newly amended Bail Amendment Act of 2015, offenders that are accused of terrorism aren’t entitled to bail.


Crimes Act of 1958 is the code that Victoria follows.

Areas such as Tasmania and Queensland follow the Criminal Act of 1924 where the offences include against a person, property and society. It also takes into consideration whether the offence was circumstantial or out of a person’s hand.


In Queensland, the primary instrument of criminal law is the Criminal Code Act of 1899. Borrowing elements from the Italian Penal Code of 1889, the criminal code was the product of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Sir Samuel Walker Griffith. He sought to create the perfect penal code in existence. This criminal act doesn’t take mens rea into consideration and criminalises mental aspect of an offence as well.


The Griffith code has been set up in many places such as Papua New Guinea and Nigeria.