The consorting law in New South Wales makes it a criminal offence for a person to continue to associate or communicate with at least two people who have previously been convicted of an indictable offence, after receiving an official police warning. The consorting law aims to prevent crime by disrupting organised criminal activity that establishes, uses or builds up criminal networks.
What is an official warning?
The consorting offence is found in Section 93X of the Crimes Act NSW and the legislation makes it clear that an official warning can be given orally or in writing. The warning informs the person being warned that the person with whom they are consorting is a convicted offender and that habitually consorting with convicted offenders is an offence.
An official warning ceases to have effect:
- If the warning is given to a person under the age of 18 years – 6 months after the warning is given or
- In any other case – 2 years after the warning is given.
A warning can be given before, during or after any consorting incident.
What does consort mean?
A person consorts with another person if that person communicates or associates with that person in any form, including by electronic or other form of communication. Some examples of consorting include meeting with, speaking to, emailing or contacting another person by social media.
Who are convicted offenders?
A convicted offender means:
a person who has been convicted of an indictable offence (disregarding any offence under section 93X). This includes interstate offences, that if occurred in NSW would be an indictable offence.
Can I be guilty of consorting even though I have never been convicted of an offence?
Yes. The offence is about associating with convicted offenders, not being a convicted offender.
Do the police have to tell me I am consorting?
No. Police have to warn you that consorting with convicted offenders is an offence. If you continue to associate with that person (the convicted offender) after you have been warned, then you may be committing an offence.
After a warning has been issued, New South Wales Police Force may provide information in writing to a person, relevant to a consorting warning to or about the person.
Crimes Act 1900
Section 93X Consorting
- A person (other than a person under the age of 14 years) who:
- habitually consorts with convicted offenders, and
- consorts with those convicted offenders after having been given an official warning in relation to each of those convicted offenders, is guilty of an offence.
- A person does not habitually consort with convicted offenders unless:
- the person consorts with at least 2 convicted offenders (whether on the same or separate occasions), and
- the person consorts with each convicted offender on at least 2 occasions.
The following forms of consorting are to be disregarded for the purposes of section 93X if the defendant satisfies the court that the consorting was reasonable in the circumstances:
- consorting with family members,
- consorting that occurs in the course of lawful employment or the lawful operation of a business,
- consorting that occurs in the course of training or education,
- consorting that occurs in the course of the provision of a health service or welfare service,
- consorting that occurs in the course of the provision of legal advice,
- consorting that occurs in lawful custody or in the course of complying with a court order.
- consorting that occurs in the course of complying with:
- an order granted by the Parole Authority, or
- a case plan, direction or recommendation by a member of staff of Corrective Services NSW,
- consorting that occurs in the course of providing transitional, crisis or emergency accommodation.
Family member includes, for a defendant who is an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander, a person who is or has been part of the extended family or kin of the defendant according to the indigenous kinship system of the defendant’s culture.
Health service means:
- medical (including psychological), hospital, ambulance, paramedical, dental, community health or environmental health service, or
- another service:
- relating to the maintenance or improvement of the health, or the restoration to health, of persons or the prevention of disease in, or injury to, persons (whether provided as a public or private service), and
- that is of a class or description prescribed by the regulations.
Parole Authority means the State Parole Authority constituted by section 183 of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999.
Welfare service means a service (whether provided as a public or private service) relating to the provision of:
- housing, employment benefits, rental assistance or other financial assistance or family support, or
- another community welfare service necessary for the promotion, protection, development and maintenance of the well-being of persons, including any rehabilitation, counselling, drug or alcohol service