When you think about things that are illegal, you might think about theft or murder. Most people are aware of what kinds of offences might fall under these categories.

But, many people who find themselves charged with an offence didn’t realise that they were committing one. Lesser-known laws can trip people up. It pays to be aware of these kinds of laws, as you can’t plead ignorance if you are charged.

One commonly misunderstood offence in Queensland is public nuisance. Here are some quick facts about public nuisance offences.

Public nuisance charges generally follow a situation in which someone has behaved in a disorderly, threatening, offensive or violent way in a public place. Or, they might be interfering with the enjoyment another person can have in the public place.

In other words, a public nuisance offence springs from the impact of someone’s behaviour on the people around them. Often, charges follow situations in which someone is fighting, arguing or shouting in public.

As you can imagine, alcohol is a factor in some public nuisance situations. Penalties for public nuisance offences are greater when a person commits an offence outside licensed premises.

When someone is charged with public nuisance, they might be fined. In some situations, though, police might issue a notice to appear in court. The maximum penalty is a $1100 fine or six months imprisonment. But, the maximum fine is higher outside licensed premises, at $2750.

Of course, it’s best to avoid situations that could lead to this kind of charge. Most public nuisance offences happen in the heat of the moment. A few minutes of things being out of hand can have a lasting impact.

To avoid trouble, it’s a good idea to stay peaceful and calm when you’re in public. This can seem easier said than done, particularly in challenging situations. But, if you find yourself confronted or angry, it’s often best to just walk away. It’s particularly a good idea to be polite and courteous when you’re around police officers and security guards, or outside a licensed venue.

If you find yourself feeling wound-up in public, it’s a good idea to remove yourself from the situation. In doing so, you just might be dodging a hefty fine.