Unlawful Assembly is a common law offence. It is committed by a person who was found to have assembled with at least two more people with a common purpose of committing or preparing to commit a crime using violence to endanger the public peace.
Have you been accused of Unlawful Assembly?
Have you been accused of Unlawful Assembly?
Police InterviewThe Police are trained in asking questions in a way that makes it seem like they are trying to get to the bottom of the case. This is not so. They will interview you if they believe you are guilty. You must remember that they are taking a note of everything you tell them and will use information they think is useful to build their case against you.
Pleading Not GuiltyOur lawyers are experts in criminal law and have run many contested hearings, This experience means that our lawyers know exactly what to look for when critiquing a Police brief of evidence and gathering material that can shed a different light on the version offered by Police.
Pleading GuiltyBefore you plead guilty to a charge of Unlawful Assembly, you should speak with one of our lawyers. There may be a sympathetic reason why you committed this offence and one of our lawyers can properly explain this along with other relevant mitigating factors to the Magistrate on your behalf. Our lawyers appear in Court daily and know what works.
Which court will the case be heard in?The offence of unlawful assembly is ordinarily heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
What is the legal definition of Unlawful Assembly?Unlawful assembly is a common law offence and is not defined in legislation.
In R v Jones (1974) 59 Cr App R 120 (CA) James LJ said:
“The ingredients of [unlawful assembly] are (i) the [act] of being or coming together – the assembly, and (ii) the [mental element] involved in the intention of fulfilling a common purpose in such a manner as to endanger the public peace. Those ingredients have to be co-existent.”
Examples of Unlawful Assembly
- Dozens of people gather together to engage in a protest against people of a certain ethnicity. During the protest, they shout aggressive slogans and threaten violence.
- A large group of people gather together with an agreed purpose of unlawfully defacing a public monument.
- A large group of people meet with a common purpose of unlawfully damaging a person’s house.
LegislationThis is a common law offence. It exists due to case law and is not written in any piece of legislation.
Elements of the offenceIn order for a person to be found guilty of this offence, the prosecution must prove the following two elements:
- Three or more people have gathered together; and
- The gathered people have a common purpose to act in an unlawful manner so as to endanger the public peace.
To satisfy the first element of this offence, the prosecution must prove that three or more people have gathered together.
Element 2: The gathered people have a common purpose to act in an unlawful manner so as to endanger the public peace
To prove the second element of this offence, the prosecution must establish that the people gathered together have a common purpose to act in an unlawful manner that would endanger the public peace.
The gathered people may have demonstrated a common purpose by advertising it on a public Facebook page or other social media, verbally articulating it at a rally or other gathering or in some other way. The common purpose could also be demonstrated by attempting to engage in a course of action.
The common purpose must be to act in an unlawful manner so as to endanger the public peace. This may mean acting violently or intending to damage property. The unlawful common purpose must also endanger the public peace. It is more likely that that this element of the offence will be made out if the assembly occurs in a public place and at a time when members of the public are present.
“Can they prove that you had a common purpose?”
DefencesDefences are ordinarily based on an element of the offence not being made out. These defences include:
- Less than three people are gathered together;
- The people gathered together do not have a common purpose; and
- The people gathered do not have a common purpose of committing a crime using violence or some other unlawful purpose.
Questions in cases like this
- Have three or more people gathered together?
- Have the people gathered with a common purpose?
- Is the common purpose committing a crime using violence or some other unlawful purpose?
Maximum penaltyUnlawful assembly (Common Law) has a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.2
 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 322O
 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 320