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.
The definition of ‘Children’s service centre’ includes premises which provide either education or other service to a child. ‘Public place’ frequented by children can include a park, playground or church. Whilst there is no specific definition for ‘loitering’ it is generally understood to mean being present at a location and ‘hanging around’.
Elements of the Offence
In order to establish the offence, the Police are required to establish the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- You have previously been found guilty of a relevant offence (which includes a sexual offence);
- 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;
- You know the place is a school, children’s service, children’s education centre or other public location where children commonly frequent;
- You have no reasonable excuse; and
- Children were present at the time you are found to be loitering.
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.
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.
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.
Have a question about this subject?
 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49N.
 Children’s Services Act 1996 (Vic) s 3.
 Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 3.
 Samuels v Stokes  HCA 62
 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49N.
 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49ZB
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