Entering a Place Without Authority or Lawful Excuse

Entering a Place Without Authority or Lawful Excuse

A person will be charged with being on premises unlawfully if they enter a private or scheduled public place without authority or permission to do so. It could be that the person may have climbed a fence or gone into an area that they know is not for the public. Another example of being on a premise unlawfully is if a person entered a place when there was a sign saying not to.
 
Sentencing

Sentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Willfully Enter a Private Place or Scheduled Public Place Without Authority or Lawful Excuse in the Higher CourtsSentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Wilfully Enter Private Place or Scheduled Public Place Without Authority or Lawful Excuse in the Magistrates' CourtsPlease note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.1


[1] Sentencing Advisory Council. Abolished Sentencing Orders, accessed February 9, 2021, https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders.

As a summary offence, any summons for this charge will primarily be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.
 
Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following two elements:

  • The accused wilfully entered a private or scheduled public place; and
  • The accused was given notice (whether it be verbally or in writing) prohibiting that accused entry
What does ‘Wilfully’ Mean?
The Prosecution must prove that a person intended to trespass and that they did not know that they had no lawful authority to be there.2

Examples of Entering a Place Without Authority or Lawful Excuse
  • Entering a school yard at night
  • Entering a staff only area of a shop
  • Entering a job site without permission or lawful excuse
Legislation
Entering a place without authority or lawful excuse as described above is an offence pursuant to section 9(1)(e) of the Summary Offences Act 1966.


[2] Anderson v Winther.
 
A person charged with this offence may rely on one of the following defences:

  • honest and reasonable mistake of belief
  • necessity
  • lack of intent
  • sudden or extraordinary emergency
  • incorrect factual matrix
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you enter the exclusion area?
  • Did you have a reason for being there?
  • Was it in fact you that entered the property?

The offence of Entering a Place Without Authority or Lawful Excuse (s9(1)(e) of the Summary Offences Act 1966) carries a fine of 25 penalty units (around $4,000) or six months imprisonment as the highest possible sentence.