Offensive conduct can capsulates are large range of conduct. It is a summary offence dealt with in the Local Court.
Offensive Conduct is contained in section 4 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) which states:
“A person must not conduct himself or herself in an offensive manner in or near, or within view or hearing from, a public place or a school.”
However, a person does not conduct himself or herself in an offensive manner merely by using offensive language.
Also the law says that ‘It is a sufficient defence to a prosecution for an offence of offensive conduct if the defendant satisfies the Court that the defendant had a reasonable excuse for conducting himself or herself in the manner alleged.
The nature and elements of the offence of offensive conduct were considered In Worcester v Smith  VLR 316 at 318 wherein O’Bryan J held that “offensive” meant “…such as is calculated to wound the feelings, arouse anger or resentment or disgust in the mind of a reasonable person…”
As for reasonable excuse in Karpik v Zisis (1979) 5 Petty Sessions Review 2055, 2056 it was found that ”a reasonable excuse for profanity in a public place would be as part of ‘a reflex action...[such as following] a heavy implement falling on one’s foot”. This was confirmed in Conners v Craigie (1994) 76 A Crim R 502 where it was qualified by saying that the offensive behaviour must have been an immediate reaction to something, not a reaction to something which happened long ago.
Offensive Conduct can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 3 months or a fine of $660.
Please note that the penalties mentioned are reserved for the worse case offending and are unlikely to be the penalty you receive.
In NSW, a Court can impose any of the following penalties for Offensive conduct:
Since Offensive Conduct is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt being that:
Some of the possible defences available can include:
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