Offensive Language

Using offensive language in or near, or within hearing from a public place or school is an offence known as a Summary Offence, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court.



Offensive Language is contained in section 4A of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (NSW) which states: "

“A person must not use offensive language in or near, or within hearing from, a public place or a school

The nature and elements of the offence of offensive conduct were considered In Worcester v Smith [1951] 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…”


Maximum/Possible Penalties

Offensive Language can be punished with a fine of up to $660.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for an offensive language charge of:

  • Fine 

OR instead of a fine the Court can:

  • may make a community correction order (CRO) and/or
  • Community Service work order of no more than 100 



Since Offensive Language is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

To establish offensive language, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • You were in, near, or within view of a public place
  • You used offensive language



Some of the possible defences can include:

  • Disputing that you were the person who used the words
  • Suggesting that, considering the context, the words were not offensive
  • Suggesting you had a "reasonable excuse"

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.



Our client’s partner had used offensive language towards a group of males in company of the police after they insulted and harassed his girlfriend. At the end of the altercation our client was charged with offensive language. During negotiations we made submissions to the police that our client was acting with reasonable excuse given he was defending his girlfriend. The police accepted our representations and the charge of use offensive language was dropped.



For Offensive Language, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® offers the following options:

  1. We initiate negotiation with prosecutors (police) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) and plead to withdrawal or downgrade of the charge or alternatively, seek amendments to the police fact sheets or documents.
  2. At the hearing/trial, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® shall if you so instruct Plead Not Guilty and drive the argument based on prosecution’s inability to prove the elements of their accusation.
  3. Alternatively, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® may plead guilty on your instructions however, the hearing shall revolve around the facts with an objective to obtain a moderate or minimum punishment.
  4. Lastly, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® on your instructions enter a plea of guilt where you accept all the charges pressed by the police, but we present a case so solid on your behalf, with an objective to persuade and convince the Court to not record a criminal conviction against you.

For further information on your choices at law click on (CHOICES AT LAW tab on our website)



There are several reasons to engage Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers®:

  •  We are always in your corner

At Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® we understand the gravity of a criminal charge on your reputation. Thus, we work with the utmost diligence and fervour to restore any dints to our client’s repute. We fight for your rights and liberty earnestly, and for the best results, irrespective of the intensity of the matter. All these factors have made us known in the industry as always being in our client’s corner. 

  •  We bring about excellent results

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® is driven by positive outcomes and defend your case with skills which have been sharpened by years of experience. You will be dealing with lawyers who are proficient at their craft and will defend your case with rigour and an aim to have the matter withdrawn, downgraded, dismissed or the minimal penalty available at law imposed.

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are adept in all forms of advocacy and will present your case in the most skilful manner in Court. 

  • Your case will be in the hands of an experienced lawyer

Irrespective of your decision in deciding the course of the case, you will be supported and guided by Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® who have been in the provision of legal service for over 21 years. 

If you are caught up in this charge our team at Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are best suited for representing your case.

Please contact our office on 0419 998 398 or 0492 857 721 or email for more information. The first consultation is free.


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