Criminal Organisations Control Amendments

Amendments to the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012 will come into force on 1 July which, according to Attorney-General Martin Pakula, will “address gaps in the current offence of consorting by providing clarity as to whom the offence applies, and by allowing Victoria Police to issue warnings to people against further unlawful associations”.

The amendments create a new offence of ‘Unlawful Association’, making it an offence for a person, who has been served with an ‘Unlawful Association Notice’ (UAN) to associate with anyone specified in that notice on three or more occasions in a 3 month period, or on six or more occasions over a year. The penalty if found guilty of the offence is up to three years imprisonment or up to 360 penalty units ($54,600).

The notices remain in effect for three years unless revoked.

It is not an offence to associate with someone specified in an UAN if that person is a family member, or the association is not for an ulterior purpose. The act defines ‘ulterior purpose’ as the purpose of (i) avoiding the application of the unlawful association act, (ii) planning, inciting or committing an offence, or (iii) expanding an organised criminal group or network. There are a number of other exceptions which allow the parties to associate such as through the course of lawful employment, both being provided legal advice or for genuine political purposes or in lawful protest or industrial action.

Persons subject to an UAN may also apply to the Chief Commissioner for authority to associate at an event or gathering.

Whilst not opposing the passing of the legislation, the Victorian opposition was critical of the fact that it allowed for association in circumstances such as lawful protest or industrial action in light of the “wealth of information pointing to the influences of criminal networks” upon unions such as the CMFEU.

If you are served with an Unlawful Association Notice, or are charged with an offence under the Criminal Organisations Control Act, call one of Melbourne’s Best Criminal Lawyers for advice.