Refuse or Fail to State Name and Address

– section 456AA(3)(a) of the Crimes Act 1958
Man Refusing to Speak to PoliceA police officer or Protective Services Officer (PSO) may request a person to state his or her name and address if the police officer or PSO believes on reasonable grounds that the person has:

  1. Has committed or is about to commit an offence, whether indictable or summary; or
  2. May be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence which has been committed or is suspected of having been committed.

Failure to comply with the request to provide your name and address in the above circumstances may be an offence pursuant to section 456AA(3)(a) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) (the Act).

Examples of Refuse or Fail to State Name and Address
  • A police officer asks a person who they believe stole clothing from a retail outlet to give their name and address and the person remains silent. The police officer has informed the person of the grounds of their belief that the person stole clothing.
  • A PSO asks a person who they believe possesses illicit drugs to give their name and address and the person gives a false name and address. This exchange occurs at a railway station while the PSO is on duty. The PSO has informed the person of the grounds for their belief that the person is possessing illicit drugs.
  • A police officer asks a person they believe witnessed a rape to give their name and address and the person refuses to do so. The police officer has informed the person of the grounds of their belief that the person witnessed the rape.
Questions in cases like this
  • Is the police officer or PSO’s belief based on ‘reasonable grounds’?
  • Has the police officer or PSO who made the request informed the person of the grounds for their belief in sufficient detail to allow the person to understand the offence or suspected offence?
  • If a PSO is making the request, is the PSO on duty at a designated place?
What are some of the possible defences to Refuse or Fail to State Name and Address?

Defences to this charge ordinarily turn on some element of the offence not being made out. These defences include:

  • The police officer or PSO did not have ‘reasonable grounds’ for their belief that the person has committed or about to commit an office or may be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence which has been committed or suspected of being committed;1;
  • The police officer or PSO did not inform the person of the grounds of their belief in sufficient detail to allow the person to understand the nature of the offence or suspected offence;2;
  • Where a PSO is making the request, the PSO was not on duty or the person was not at or in the vicinity of a designated place;3;
  • The person complied with the request.4

Other defences to this charge include mental impairment, duress and honest and reasonable mistake.

You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. A decision on whether to plead guilty or not should only be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

This offence carries maximum penalty of 5 penalty units (a $805.95 fine).5

The Department of Treasury and Finance reviews and updates the value of a penalty unit on 1 July each year.6 As such, the maximum fine for this offence may change.

This offence is heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Refuse or Fail to State Name and Address?
  1. A police officer or a protective services officer on duty at a designated place may request a person to state his or her name and address if the police officer or the protective services officer believes on reasonable grounds that the person—
    1. has committed or is about to commit an offence, whether indictable or summary; or
    2. may be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence which has been committed or is suspected of having been committed.
       
  2. A police officer or a protective services officer who makes a request under subsection (1) must inform the person of the grounds for his or her belief in sufficient detail to allow the person to understand the nature of the offence or suspected offence.
     
  3. A person who, in response to a request made by a police officer or a protective services officer in accordance with this section—
    1. refuses or fails to comply with the request; or

    is guilty of a summary offence punishable on conviction by a level 11 fine (5 penalty units maximum).

  4. A person who is requested by a police officer or a protective services officer under subsection (1) to state his or her name and address may request the officer to state, orally or in writing, his or her name, rank and place of duty.
     
  5. A police officer or a protective services officer who, in response to a request under subsection (4)—
    1. refuses or fails to comply with the request; or
    2. states a name or rank that is false in a material particular; or
    3. states as his or her place of duty an address other than the name of the police station which is the police officer’s or the protective services officer’s ordinary place of duty; or
    4. refuses to comply with the request in writing if requested to do so—

    is guilty of a summary offence punishable on conviction by a level 11 fine (5 penalty units maximum).

  6. A protective services officer may only exercise the power under this section in relation to a person who is at, or in the vicinity of, a designated place.
     
  7. In this section—
    “designated place” has the same meaning as in the Victoria Police Act 2013.

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Legislation

The relevant legislative provision for this offence is section 456AA(3)(a) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Elements of the offence

The prosecution must satisfy the following elements to prove this offence:

  1. A police officer or PSO on duty at a designated place requests a person to state their name and address;
  2. The police officer or PSO believes on reasonable grounds that the person has committed or is about to commit an offence (summary or indictable) or may be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence which has been committed or is suspected of being committed;
  3. The police officer or PSO who makes the request informs the person of the grounds of their belief in sufficient detail to allow the person to understand the nature of the offence or suspected offence;
  4. The person in response to the request refuses or fails to comply with the request.

Element 1: A police officer or PSO on duty at a designated place requests a person to state their name and address
To satisfy the first element of this offence a police officer or PSO must request a person to state their name and address.7

If a PSO is making the request, the PSO must be on duty and the person from whom they are requesting details must be at or in the vicinity of a ‘designated place’.8 A designated place is9:

  1. a railway premises;
  2. a rail premises on or adjoining railway premises including any car parking area on the rail premises;
  3. any roadway or other thoroughfare giving access to rail premises or specified bus premises;
  4. any area on or adjoining rail premises or specified bus premises used by other modes of transport including taxi ranks;
  5. any car park controlled by a Council (within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1989) that is adjoining rail premises or specified bus premises;
  6. any privately owned or managed land used for a car park or other public transport purposes adjoining rail premises or specified bus premises;
  7. land on or in which is situated a tram stopping point within the meaning of section 48H of the Road Management Act 2004 and any associated tram stop infrastructure within the meaning of that section;
  8. any rail premises on or adjoining the land referred to in paragraph (g), including any car parking area on the rail premises;
  9. a bus premises; or
  10. a road on which a specified route bus or rail replacement bus provides a bus service at the time the service is in operation.

Element 2: The police officer or PSO believe on reasonable grounds that the person has committed or is about to commit an offence (summary or indictable) or may be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence which has been committed or is suspected of being committed
A police officer or PSO must have ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that the person from whom they are requesting details has committed or is about to commit an indictable or summary offence or may be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence.10

It is important to note a police officer or PSO can only ask someone they believe can assist in the investigation of an offence for their details if the offence being investigated is an ‘indictable’ offence, whereas they can request a person’s details in relation to an indictable or summary offence if they believe that the person has committed or about to commit the offence.

In Victoria offences are classified as either summary or indictable. Offences in the Crimes Act 1958 and the Wrongs Act 1958 are deemed to be indictable, unless there is an intention to the contrary in the legislation.11 Offences in other legislation described as being level 1 – 6 or punishable by level 1 – 6 imprisonment, fine or both are presumed to be indictable offences unless there is an intention to the contrary. All other offences are presumed to be summary offences, unless otherwise stated.12

Any request that a police officer or PSO makes must be made on reasonable grounds. ‘Reasonable grounds’ is not defined in the Act. Reasonable grounds will vary depending on the circumstances of the case, however it requires that the police officer or PSO has some basis for making the request, such as a member of the public notifying them of an offence or witnessing an offence themselves.

Element 3: The police officer or PSO who makes the request informs the person of the grounds of their belief in sufficient detail to allow the person to understand the nature of the offence or suspected offence.
The police officer or PSO must inform the person from whom they are requesting a name and address of the grounds of their belief in sufficient detail for the person to understand the nature of the offence or suspected offence.13

This means that the police officer or PSO can only request that someone give their name and address if they provide that person with sufficient detail of the basis for their belief and the nature of the relevant offence. For example, if a police officer believes they witness someone purchase drugs, they could only request that the person they believe purchased the drugs give their name and address if they explain that they believe they saw the person accept illicit drugs in exchange for money, which is an offence.

Element 4: The person fails to comply with the request
To satisfy the final element of this offence, the prosecution must prove that the person the police requested provide their name and address refused or failed to comply with the request.14:

“Did you fail to comply with the police officer’s request?”
Sentencing in the higher courts

High CourtThere were 18 charges of State False Name or Address When Requested that were heard in the Victorian higher courts between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2016. These charges led to fines (62.1%), adjourned undertaking/discharge/dismissal (34.5%), or Community Correction Orders (3.4%).

The majority of fines were in the “< $1,000” category (83.3%) while the highest amount imposed was somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 (11.1%).15

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

In the Magistrates’ Courts, 360 cases (371 charges) of Refuse or Fail to State Name and Address were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. These cases resulted in the following sentences:

  • Fine – 35.0%
  • Imprisonment – 22.8%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 19.2%
  • Community Correction Order – 16.7%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 4.4%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 1.4%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.6%

The longest prison term imposed was between 24 and 36 months which was imposed in 2.4% of imprisonment cases. The majority of imprisonment sentences were less than 3 months.

In terms of financial penalties, the highest fine imposed fell under the “$4,000 < $5,000” category. This category fine was imposed in 0.6% of the charges that led to aggregate fines. The most frequently imposed fines were between $500 and $1,000 (33.7% for aggregate fines) and less than $500 (18.8% for non-aggregate).16

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the Magistrates’ Court for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.17

Other important resources

 



[1] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(1)
[2] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(2)
[3] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(6)
[4] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(3)
[5] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA
[6] Department of Justice and Regulation Victoria, accessed 7/11/2018 <http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/justice+system/fines+and+penalties/penalties+and+values/>.
[7] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(1)
[8] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(6)
[9] Victoria Police Regulations 2014 (Vic) s 27
[10] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(1)(a)-(b)
[11] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s2B; Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) s2A
[12] Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 112
[13] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(2)
[14] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 456AA(3)(a)
[15] SACStat Higher Courts – Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) : s 456AA(3) – state false name or address when requested < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_6231_456AA_3.html >
[16] SAC Statistics – Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) : s 456AA(3)(a) – refuse or fail to state name and address < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/6231_456AA_3_a.html >
[17] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >