Public Urination Laws and How Cutting off the Internet Can Spell Big Trouble in Australia

by The FindLaw Team

There have been two unusual stories that have made the rounds in the news this week. What are the stories? Well, another football player is in trouble for public urination in Victoria, and the other legal story relates to a grandmother in Georgia who cut off internet access for neighbouring Armenia after severing a major cable scavenging for copper wire. These two items has led the FindLaw team to wonder: are there any laws in Australia relating to both acts?

Public urination

In New South Wales and Victoria, there are no laws on the books explicitly making public urination an offence, but under s 7 of Queensland’s Summary Offences Act, there exists a law preventing a person from reliving themselves in a public area. The definition of the act is a wonder to behold as well:

"evidence that liquid was seen to be discharged from the vicinity of a person’s pelvic area is enough evidence that the person was urinating"

The section also clarifies that a public place is not defined as an area that is used as a toilet. What a relief…so to speak.

Amazingly, after admittedly a very cursory effort at research into any prosecutions relating to the section, there was one case recorded where an individual was not only found guilty, but had a conviction recorded! However, it should be noted that although the action did indeed involve urination in a public place, the person was charged under s 6 of the Summary Offences Act, which relates to public nuisance, and carries a greater penalty. The conviction was overturned on appeal, the right section was used, and probably much to the relief (yes, more puns) to the individual in question.

Severing data cables in Australia carries very large penalties

Australia’s increasing dependence of the internet means that any problems such as the one faced in Armenia could be catastrophic financially. The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Protection of Submarine Cables and Other Measures) Act which protects important telecommunications data cables off the coast of Perth and Sydney. Because the cables are sensitive, activities such as deep sea trawling and anchoring in protected waters are extremely limited.

Underwater fibre optic cables are considered so integral to the ‘national interest’ that any violation of Schedule 3A of the Telecommunications Act can result in a fine of up to $66,000, and up to 10 years imprisonment for an individual, and fines up to $330,000 for a corporation.

By the way, the poor grandmother in Georgia faces up to three years in prison. And she has no idea what the internet is.



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