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Loitering near Schools

If you have been previously convicted of a ‘relevant offence’, including possession of child pornography or other sexual offences involving a child (e.g. sexual assault of a child), it is considered to be an offence in Victoria to loiter near a school premises or other place where children are located.

For example, if you have previously been convicted of possessing child pornography, and are found by Police to be standing outside a Primary School, Childcare, or Dance School you could be charged with the offence of Loitering near a School.[1]

The definition of ‘Children’s service centre’ includes premises which provide either education or other service to a child.[2] ‘Public place’ frequented by children can include a park, playground or church.[3] Whilst there is no specific definition for ‘loitering’ it is generally understood to mean being present at a location and ‘hanging around’.[4]

Elements of the Offence

In order to establish the offence, the Police are required to establish the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You have previously been found guilty of a relevant offence (which includes a sexual offence);
  2. You are found to be loitering at, or near, a place that is a school, children’s service, children’s education centre or other public location where children commonly frequent;
  3. You know the place is a school, children’s service, children’s education centre or other public location where children commonly frequent;
  4. You have no reasonable excuse; and
  5. Children were present at the time you are found to be loitering.[5]

Possible Penalties

The maximum penalty for loitering near a school is 5 years imprisonment. However, a Judge or Magistrate  will take into account a variety of considerations (e.g. it is your first offence) prior to making any sentencing determinations, if you are guilty of this offence.

Defences Available

If you have a reasonable excuse for being present at a school or other place where children are, then you may have a defence to your charge.[6]

You may also have a defence if you did not know the premises was a school or similar. For example, you did not know that the premises were a dance school or other children’s service at the time you were found on or near the premises.  You may also have a defence if you were not previously convicted of a ‘relevant’ offence.

If you have been charged with a sexual offence then contact Leanne Warren today to discuss your defence. First 30 minute consultation is free of charge: 03 9670 6066 / info@leannewarren.com.au

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[1]        Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49N.

[2]        Children’s Services Act 1996 (Vic) s 3.

[3]        Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 3.

[4]        Samuels v Stokes [1973] HCA 62

[5]        Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49N.

[6]        Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49ZB

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