Don’t Break Any Laws Celebrating Halloween!
Halloween is looming. It’s supposed to be a night of fun so make sure you take care, and always be aware of the ever present dangers including criminal offending that can occur on evenings like this.
Once a strictly American celebration, in the past several years Halloween just seems to have taken hold in Australia and by now the shops are full of Halloween paraphernalia. For some it’s just another ‘commercial marketing ploy’ for the retailers to cash in before Christmas, but for many it’s become a neighbourhood tradition, a chance for people to come together and have some fun.
First of all, be aware that COVID, in particular the highly contagious Delta variant, is imminent. While we’ve been incredibly lucky here in Western Australia not to have suffered the severe outbreaks of the other states, health and hygiene should be top of mind, so use hand sanitiser, hand out only treats that are individually wrapped, and just be aware of personal space.
Helmets for cyclists
While we’re on the topic of safety, this is a night that kids tend to rule the streets, and for drivers that can be problematic. Just slow down, and be aware that kids can be unpredictable, and quick! In the evening, visibility can be reduced, and there could be family pets out and about too. If you have an accident you can be charged with a number of driving offences depending on the circumstances, including speeding, dangerous driving or careless driving. And of course drink / drug-driving is also against the law.
Children should, at all times, be supervised by an adult, and stay on the footpaths where possible. Kids on bicycles should be wearing helmets. Helmets are compulsory for bicycle riders and bicycle passengers in Western Australia. Helmets must meet safety standards too (so the one that comes with your Darth Vadar costume won’t be suitable). The financial penalty for not wearing a helmet is $50.00.
For parents, it’s important to remind kids about road safety, ‘stranger danger’ and being aware of their own personal safety too.
Don’t be a victim of theft!
If you’re out trick or treating, then lock up your home and your car. Opportunistic thieves are everywhere …. and the most likely items they’ll steal are small valuables that are easy to grab, and to carry -- cash, wallets, keys, mobile phones and small electronic devices like ipads.
Vandalism and damage to property
Most parents will attest to the fact that the ‘sugar high’ is a very real thing. Some kids are really affected by sugar, preservatives or food colourings. Peer pressure can also pose a problem. It can insight poor decision making to join in on bad behaviours such as egging houses, spray painting and damaging property, or other acts of vandalism. These kinds of acts can land young people in serious trouble with the law.
In 2016, the Graffiti Vandalism Act 2016 was introduced. It created new offences and penalties for graffiti damage and consolidated other graffiti-related offences, including damage to vegetation. The penalties for an adult offender include a community based order. For a child offender, a youth community based order. The maximum penalty is a fine of $24,000 and imprisonment for two years.
Possessing an item with intent to graffiti
Section 6 of the legislation deals with ‘possessing thing with an intent to apply graffiti’ which means a person can be charged without having done any damage, but where police believe there was an intent to cause damage. It states:
(1) A person must not be in possession of a thing with the intention of using it to destroy, damage or deface property by applying graffiti.
The penalty is a fine of $6,000
It’s important to remember that not everyone celebrates Halloween, so it’s best to stick to the streets and houses that are decorated and obviously participating.
Trespassing is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA) s 5 ('Criminal Code'). Section 70A states that:
A person who, without lawful excuse, trespasses on a place, is guilty of an offence.
“Trespass” on a place is defined as:
- To enter or be in the place without the consent or licence of the owner, occupier or person having control or management of the premises.
- To remain in the place after being requested by a person in authority to leave the place; or
- To remain in the part of the place after being requested by a person in authority to leave that part of the place.
The maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment and a fine of $12,000.
So, if you’re getting into the Halloween festivities, just remember to take care, be considerate of others and make sure you don’t break any laws. However, if you are facing criminal charges and need representation from an experienced Criminal Lawyer, contact the Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices without delay on (08) 9278 2575.
PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.