find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Infrastructure Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Perth WA
· We'd be particularly interested to hear from you if you were a lawyer who knows your way around the infrastructure and energy sectors.
View details
Australia’s quirkiest crimes

Australia’s quirkiest crimes

Potatoes

What constitutes too much potatoes under Western Australian law?

Criminal lawyers at Slater and Gordon have curated a list of some of Australia’s most bizarre criminal offences.

If you’re thinking of buying more than 50 kilograms of potatoes, singing an obscene ballad or challenging someone to a duel, you might want to think again.

Slater and Gordon criminal lawyer Veronika Drago said that although these laws seem funny now, they were enacted with good reason.

“To understand why we have these laws, you really have to think back to the time when they were first introduced, enacted,” Ms Drago said.

“For example, the potatoes law in Western Australia was introduced in 1946, when post-war food security and the Great Depression were pressing political issues.

“As to why they’re still on the books, you can easily imagine how reviewing offences about flying kites and selling fridges is not really a priority for incoming governments.”

However, Ms Drago warned, these anomalies still have legal force.

“It is likely that some of these offences have not been used for many years, however, others are much more recent and prosecution is definitely a possibility,” she said.

“The NSW Road Rules were introduced in 2014, for instance, which means the offence of splashing mud onto bus passengers could reasonably be used if police consider it necessary.

“It would not be a laughing matter if you were charged with any of these offences and it went to court, because a judge would be bound to apply the law as it is written.”

Check out the full list below:

  1. NSW: Drivers can be fined up to $2,200 for not taking enough care to avoid splashing mud on public bus passengers [Regulation 291-3, Road Rules 2014 (NSW)].
  2. Queensland: It is illegal to post a fake job advertisement, or publish false notices about engagements, births, deaths or funerals. Maximum penalty is a $1,219 fine or six months’ imprisonment [Section 21, Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld)].

  3. Victoria: It is an offence in Victoria to fly a kite to “the annoyance of any person” in a public place. Maximum penalty is a $777.30 fine [Section 4, Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)].

  4. Victoria: Singing an obscene song or ballad in a public place can attract a maximum fine of $1,554.60 or two months’ imprisonment; $2,331.90 fine or three months’ imprisonment for a second offence; $3,886.50 fine or six months’ imprisonment for a third or subsequent offence [Section 17, Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)].

  5. Victoria: It is illegal to correspond or do business with pirates. The maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment [Section 70C, Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)].

  6. Victoria: It is an offence in Victoria to make unreasonable noise with a vacuum cleaner after 10pm or before 7am on weekdays, and 9am on weekends [Section 48A, Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic); Regulation 6, Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2008 (Vic)].
    - The noise will be considered unreasonable if it can be heard in a ‘habitable’ room in any other residential property, whether they have the door or window open or closed.
    - Police or the council can direct you stop making the noise for 72 hours and a breach of their direction can carry a fine of up to $18,655.20, with an extra fine up to $4,663.80 per day for continuing noise violations.

  7. South Australia: Obstructing or disturbing a wedding, funeral or religious service is an offence that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 or two years’ imprisonment [Section 7A, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)].

  8. South Australia: It is an offence to sell a fridge with a capacity of 42.5 litres or more, unless all of the doors can be easily opened from the inside or it was brought into the state before 1 January 1962. Maximum penalty is a $750 fine [Section 58B, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)].

  9. South Australia: A $250 maximum penalty applies to a person who, without reasonable excuse, disturbs another by wilfully pulling or ringing the doorbell of a house or by knocking at the door of a house [Section 50, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)].

  10. Western Australia: Challenging another person to a duel is punishable by a maximum $6,000 fine or two years’ imprisonment [Section 72, Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].

  11. Western Australia: You can be jailed for up to a year for cleaning up seabird or bat poo (guano) without a licence [Section 387, Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].

  12. Western Australia: It is an offence to make a sign that offers a reward for the return of stolen or lost property if you promise not to ask any questions. Maximum penalty: $2,000 fine [Section 138Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].

  13. Western Australia: It is illegal to carry a weapon in most circumstances, but a lawful excuse exists in WA for electrified briefcases [Section 68A, Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].

  14. Western Australia: It is an offence to be in possession of more than 50kg of potatoes in WA, unless you have purchased the potatoes from a grower or retailer authorised by the Potato Corporation. Police also have the power to stop and search a vehicle suspected of carrying more than 50kg of potatoes. The maximum penalty is a $2,000 fine for a first offence or a $5,000 fine for subsequent offences, as well as a further penalty up to twice the value of the potatoes [Section 22, Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946 (WA)].

Check out some of the weirdest laws in other jurisdictions here.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Australia’s quirkiest crimes
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Violence
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
marriage equality
Nov 16 2017
Legislation the next hurdle for marriage equality
Lawyers have underscored the importance of ensuring same-sex marriage legislation does not limit ant...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...