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1 - Words

Jeremy Gans
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
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Summary

Introduction

This chapter is about how to read statutory provisions that set out criminal offences. Section 1.2 explains why reading such provisions can be hard. The remaining sections describe the law on how to read them, in two stages:

  • the general law on statutory interpretation, which requires readers to consider the language, context and purpose of each provision (1.3)

  • special interpretation rules, which look beyond the specifics of particular provisions to their penal nature, their effect on human rights and general doctrines about all crimes or particular categories of crimes (1.4).

Understanding these regimes, as well as their interaction and limitations, is a prerequisite to understanding contemporary Australian criminal law.

While words are common to every offence provision, this chapter will focus on the variety of offences that regulate disorderly behaviour. Not only is the law of disorder the broadest part of the criminal law in terms of potential application and one of the most fraught routine interactions between the state and its citizens, but it is also a particular challenge in terms of both drafting and interpreting offence provisions, whether old or modern. As will be seen below, the most significant High Court judgment on interpreting criminal offences concerns a direct descendant of one of the first disorderly conduct statutes.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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References

Maxwell, P B Theobald, J A 1905 122
O’Connor, J 1908
1908
2011

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  • Words
  • Jeremy Gans, University of Melbourne
  • Book: Modern Criminal Law of Australia
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139194310.002
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  • Words
  • Jeremy Gans, University of Melbourne
  • Book: Modern Criminal Law of Australia
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139194310.002
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Words
  • Jeremy Gans, University of Melbourne
  • Book: Modern Criminal Law of Australia
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139194310.002
Available formats
×