Schoolies week legal issues can impact your future.

Dancing, drinkingIt is that time of year again when school leavers get the chance to celebrate their graduation at the annual ‘Schoolies’ festival. Although we are hopeful that it is a week of fun, laughter and celebration we understand that there may be some schoolies that face legal issues.  Some schoolies week legal issues can have a real and significant impact on your future.

With a number of arrests already made over the first part of the week, we are here to provide advice on your rights and possible outcomes of common legal issues you may face.

Common ‘on the spot fine’ Offences

We understand that many schoolies are under 18 years of age however under Queensland Law you are still considered to be an adult and will be treated the same by the courts.

If you are under 18, albeit the temptation, it is illegal to use or make a fake ID’s. Large monetary fines will be issued on the spot and your ID will be confiscated. These include but not limited to:

  • Using a fake ID – $378.00;
  • Lending your ID to a friend – $630.00.

We all know alcohol plays the main role at schoolies and the majority of the festival are on the streets and beach. These areas are categorised as a public place by law. If you are caught drinking alcohol in a public place you will be issued with an on the spot fine of $126.00. This fine will be increased if you are under the age of 18 to $378.00. Please be wary this will include holding a drink for your friend.

We advise you to consume all alcohol within your apartments or licenced venues.

Serious Criminal Offences

On a more serious note and circumstances where you can be brought before the Court are for drug-related offences. Common offences include:

  1. Possessing a dangerous drug (eg. cannabis, MDMA, ecstasy pills, methyl amphetamine);
  2. Supplying a dangerous drug;
  3. Possession of utensils used for consuming illicit drugs (eg. Pipes, bongs, needles and grinders).

These are serious criminal offences and can range in penalties from fines to imprisonment. Engaging a solicitor who is familiar with this area of law and an experienced advocate on these Magistrates Court matters will enable you to receive a sentence far less serious than if you were to appear self-represented.

More importantly, given schoolies are only 17 and 18 years of age, the effects of a criminal conviction can be extremely detrimental. A criminal conviction may be recorded in relation to any matter before the court. The Magistrate has a discretion whether to record a conviction after hearing submissions by both the Prosecution and the Defence. It is vital to have an advocate on your side to elaborate on any mitigating factors and target the key issues to the Magistrate.

Recording a conviction can affect:

  1. Employment opportunities;
  2. Travel arrangements; and
  3. The ability to obtain various licences (blue card etc.).

Don’t let a mistake ruin your life, we are here to support you every step of the way.

Your rights

The starting point is that you have the right to remain silent regardless of whether you have been placed under arrest or not.


  1. If the Police approach you on the street or during the beach party, you do need to provide them with your name and your address. If you do not comply with this direction you may be breaking the law;
  2. The Police must have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you’re breaking the law, have broken the law, or are about to break the law before placing you under arrest or detaining you for the purpose of a search. You are not required to provide your phone or passcodes unless they have a warrant;
  3. You are not required to attend the Police Station unless you are under arrest;
  4. You should never participate in a Police interview unless you have contacted your lawyer or family/friend. We advise strongly to contact your lawyer or family/friend once arrested. The Police are required to oblige to the same as this is a right under the law;
  5. If you obstruct Police in the course of their duty, this can lead to a criminal offence.

We are experienced in the above and many other criminal matters. We can provide legal advice throughout each step of the process including but not limited to:

  1. Your arrest;
  2. Attendance at the Police Station to provide an interview;
  3.  Sentencing options.

Our role is to answer any questions you have about your criminal matter and make the process less stressful, expedient and deliver the best possible outcome.

If you have been convicted of an offence whilst attending schoolies or you require a lawyer to attend a police interview, please contact Gatenby Criminal Law without delay on (07) 55800120 or send us a message online.

About the Author.

Sam RigbySam Rigby is a Criminal Lawyer at Gatenby Criminal Lawyers.  He is available to discuss any issues that might arise over the Schoolies festival.  You can contact us on 0477800880 or book an appointment at our office on (07)55800120.


This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.


Reforms to Youth Justice Laws Brings Qld in Line With UN Convention

Youth Justice Reforms

Teenager under arrestQueensland’s 17 year old offenders are the only youths in the Country being sentenced outside the youth justice system.

By treating 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system, Queensland has been inconsistent not only with the rest of the country, but also in breach the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Under proposed youth justice reforms, 17 year olds are to be considered children.  It is anticipated that all children under the age of 18 year will proceed through the Youth Justice System.  The proposed reforms are hoped to reduce the rate of recidivism by diverting the youths from the Adult system and providing assistance.


It is well recognised amongst stakeholders that the youth justice system provides:

  1. Greater capacity for offenders to be diverted away from the Court system;
  2. Access to age appropriate education, training and programs;
  3. Age appropriate support and supervision in custody;
  4. Reduced access to the influence of adult offenders; and
  5. The benefit of sentencing principles with prioritise support and rehabilitation in the community.

Children who do not have their basic health and welfare needs being met are at a greater risk of re-offending.  Youth require greater levels of education, training and engagement in employment if they are to avoid the statistics of returning to custody. The youth justice system is better suited to meeting these needs.

Amendment to Youth Justice Act

On 15 September 2016, the Attorney General, Ms D’Ath introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation (inclusion of 17 year old Persons) Amendment Bill 2016.  The purpose of the Bill is to recognise that 17 year olds are youths and not adults.  Importantly 17 year olds are to be included in the upper age of a ‘child’ for the purposes of the Youth Justice Act.  The definition of a ‘child’ will now include a person under the age of 18 years.


The Bill will commence by proclamation 12 months after passage.  The delay is to account for the need to ensure that necessary planning is undertaken to facilitate a safe and proper transition.


It is envisaged that there will be broadly three categories of youth that the amendment will apply to:

  1. 17 year old charged after proclamation;
  2. 17 year olds subject to current proceedings; and
  3. 17 year olds currently serving a custodial sentence.

17 year olds yet to be charged

This group will be treated as a child for the purpose of the Act.  The traditional application of part 6, division 11 of the Act will continue to govern the principles where a juvenile offender turns 18 prior to the commencement of proceedings.

17 year olds subject to current proceedings

The Bill proposes that the Court will have a discretion as to how to deal with those who are turning 18 close the finalisation of their sentence. The new subsection 390(3) will provide a broad power for a court to make an order or give a direction of ensure that any unanticipated scenarios can be dealt with appropriately.

17 year olds service a sentence

The Bill does not interfere with Sentence Orders made prior to commencement.  It will however, provide for the administration of those orders as 17 year olds in the Youth Justice System rather than the adult system.

If a 17 year old was sentenced to an adult probation order, that order would continue. The supervision of the Order would however be administered as though it were a Youth Justice Probation Order.

Similarly, a 17 year old, sentenced to imprisonment would serve that term of imprisonment in a youth detention centre.  The detention would be subject to the relevant provisions of the Youth Justice Act.  The youth would be released on a Supervised Release Order in place of Parole and/or would transition to an adult corrective services facility on reaching a certain age.

Further Reading

Click here to read more about the Inclusion of 17- year-old Persons Amendment Bill 2016


This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Schoolies Week & Alcohol: What Does the Law Say?

Portrait of group of friends toasting with bottles of beer.

At the commencement of every Schoolies Week there is the inevitable footage of police confiscating alcohol purchased for or on behalf of underage schoolies.  There is the long and lasting debate over what is and is not acceptable behaviour by both schoolies and the parents that “supply” them with alcohol.  What is of some concern is the lack of understanding as to what the law permits.

Purchase of Alcohol by Minors.

The law is very clear in relation to the sale of Liquor to a minor.  Section 155A of the Liquor Act 1992 relevently provides that: A person must not sell liquor to a minor.

Maximum penalty—

  1.  if the person is the licensee or permittee of, or an approved manager working at, the premises to which a licence or permit relates—250 penalty units; or
  2. in any other case—80 penalty units.

Section 156 further provides that:  A person must not, on premises to which a licence or permit relates—

  1. supply liquor to; or
  2. permit or allow liquor to be supplied to; or
  3. allow liquor to be consumed by;

a person who—

  •  is a minor; or
  • is unduly intoxicated or disorderly.

People in night club. Dancing, drinking and having funMinors on licensed Premises.

Section 155 of the Liquor Act provides that in relation to all but exempt minors, a  licensee, permittee or person in control of the premises to which the licence or permit relates must ensure that a minor is not on the premises.

Alcohol in a private place.

Parents and friends who supply minors with alcohol for their schoolies week celebrations face significant fines of up to $9,424.00.  The prohibition is on the “unsupervised consumption” of alcohol in a private place.

  1. An adult must not supply liquor to a minor at a private place, unless the adult is a responsible adult for the minor.
  2. A responsible adult for a minor must not supply liquor to the minor at a private place, unless the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor.
  3. In considering whether the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor, relevant factors include the following
  • (a)  whether the adult is unduly intoxicated
  • (b)  whether the minor is unduly intoxicated;
  • (c)  the age of the minor;
  • (d)  whether the minor is consuming the liquor supplied with food;
  • (e)  whether the adult is responsibly supervising the minor’s consumption of the liquor supplied;
  • (f)  the quantity of liquor supplied and the period over which it was supplied.

A celebratory drink is permitted so long as the minor is supervised and is not intoxicated.  There is also a requirement that the parent is in a condition to supervise.  The Liquor Act provides that a person is intoxicated when a persons, speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is affected and there are reasonable grounds for believing the affected speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is the result of the consumption of liquor, drugs or another intoxicating substance

The same rules apply to schoolies who are of the legal drinking age and supply alcohol to their underage mates.

Last year during schoolies police and liquor licensing officials issued a number of fines including:

  • 200 for minors for possessing alcohol in a public place;
  • 113 to adults for consuming alcohol in a public place; and
  • 79 to minors falsely representing themselves as over 18 years of age.


party girlWe look at the Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill which was passed by the Queensland Government in an effort to reinforce it’s Safe Night Out plan.  The Safe Night Out plan is said to be aimed at stamping out alcohol and drug related violence.

This legislation sees an increase in policing powers, and introduces new penalties and compulsory community service orders.  A number of changes have been made to legislation including:

  • Criminal Code 1899;
  • Penalties and Sentences Act 1992; and
  • Bail Act 1980.

Criminal Code Amendments

There is an introduction of the ‘coward punch’ offence, namely the offence of ‘unlawful striking causing death’ which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and defined as death caused by the striking to a person on their head or neck. This creates a distinction from other homicide offences in that it excludes the element of intent, meaning that defences such as provocation and accident are unavailable.

A new offence of serious assault against public officers is introduced which essentially mirrors the offence of assault against police officers. Behaviour such as biting or spitting at the officer sees offenders liable to a maximum prison sentence of 14 years rather than the previous 7 years.

Chapter 35A is introduced to address the circumstances of aggravation in relation to particular offences. This amendment changes the way in which offender’s are able to claim the defence of mistake of fact in relation to intoxication, and introduces presumptive factors in relation to adverse effects from intoxicating substances. Proof of intoxication is BAC 0.150 or a failure to provide a specimen. An offender is deemed not intoxicated if they:

a)   Didn’t know they were ingesting an intoxicating substance; and

b)   An ordinary person wouldn’t have reasonably known they were ingesting an intoxicating substance; and

c)   They wouldn’t be intoxicated but for that ingestion.

Penalties and Sentences Act Amendments

A new section has been inserted under the sentencing guidelines in part 9 which alters the sentencing process for liquor-associated offences. This new section leaves no doubt or cause for argument in relation to voluntary intoxication and expressly provides under 9A:

Voluntary intoxication of an offender by alcohol or drugs is not a mitigating factor for a court to have regard to in sentencing the offender.

This provides legislative confirmation of existing case law principles, for example in R v Rosenberger; ex parte A-G (Qld) [1994] QCA 488 where it was expressed at paragraph 6: “Ordinary intoxication, whether by alcohol or other drugs, will not mitigate penalty”.

The Court is also required to order offenders to complete community service orders when convicted of certain offences committed when intoxicated and in a public place.

Bail Act Amendments

A new subsection has been inserted which provides a mandatory requirement for a court or police officer who is granting bail to require the offender to complete a Drug and Alcohol Assessment Referral in circumstances where the offender is charged with a “prescribed offence” in a “public place” “while the person was adversely affected” “by an intoxicating substance”.