Crimes you didn’t know existed in NSW

Get in touch: 1800 770 780

How can we help?

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, they say, but who could guess that these misdeeds might land you in the dock in NSW?  Here are a dozen that may surprise.


Failing to return your library books – or, for that matter stealing manuscripts or art work from a museum. The first just sounds like the revenge of an angry librarian. In context, it starts to make more sense. The penalties can range up to a year in jail and a fine of four times the value of what was taken.


Tooting and waving from your car window – The first involves the use of your horn or warning device unnecessarily ($325 fine), and the second, the protrusion of a part of your body outside the vehicle window ($325 fine, 3 demerits).  Kiss goodbye on the kerb, please.


Stealing shrubbery – Any Monty Python fan could have told you that this would end badly. But it also applies to any animal hides, shipwrecked goods or dead wood your neighbour may have  carelessly left lying around in his yard. Thou shalt not covet his ox, his ass, his woodpile, his Christmas Bush …..


Jay-walking – If you walk on the red man or cross within 20 metres of a marked pedestrian crossing, you risk a $69 ticket.  


Soaping a fountain – Not to be a killjoy, but it apparently clogs the filters and can burn out the pump. It is also a mess to clean up. Pranksters everywhere should know that those lovely bubbles can cost $440.


Splashing mud on a bus passenger by driving through a puddle with your car – Apart from being grossly bad manners, it could cost you $180.


Peeping – Worse than bad manners, this one is creepy, and it has gotten uglier with sophisticated technology. Someone who is convicted of being in or near a building with intent to peep or pry on another may face up to three months of imprisonment. The original Peeping Tom, according to legend, was struck blind (or dead), just so you know.


Leaving your keys in the car – is rarely a good idea, but in NSW, it is also illegal. Standing more than three metres away from your car without removing the ignition key and locking the doors and windows can cost you $216 ($108 for the key and $108 for the doors and windows.)  It is worth a guess that the police just got tired of trying to retrieve stolen vehicles.


Failing to host a horse – Yes, barkeeps in NSW are still obliged to have a stable to feed and water the faithful steeds of patrons who arrive by horseback. Leaving the bar on your horse is quite another matter. People who are caught riding a horse while intoxicated may be charged with drunk driving.


Drinking alcohol while driving when NOT intoxicated – No, you can’t do that either.  No roadies for the driver. It could cost as much as $2,200. Passengers may drink alcohol, however. Business in the front, party in the back.


Fortune-telling – While fortune-telling is clearly an offence in the Northern Territory and South Australia, the situation in NSW is a little more nuanced. Telling fortunes or practising as a psychic may be illegal as form of fraud if it involves deception, personal dishonesty and payment or some other kind of financial exchange. Reading tarot cards at a party for free is probably fine. Fleecing the gullible is not.


Dressing like a cartoon cat burglar – Roaming the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes and black shoe polish on your face is illegal, as these are the tools of a cat burglar. Actually, it is against the law to wear any disguise without a lawful excuse, so dressing as a crime fighting superhero or the Pink Panther may also cause you problems.  Just keep your fancy dress party invitation in your pocket.


At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we do our best to keep our clients square with the rules, whether obvious or obscure. If you have questions about any area of the law – quirky crimes, not-so-quirky crimes, or the more usual subjects of business and personal  law, please call us for a consultation at 1800 770 780.


Just ask us a question

We are always ready to help you.