Criminal Offences

Public Disorder or Move on Direction

Public Disorder is more of an umbrella term that takes into account charges that normally concern cases of public disturbances and disorder. Some of the most common offences classified as “public disorder” include but aren’t limited to affray, violent disorder, offensive language/conduct and riot.“Public disorder” offences are taken seriously by the Courts and hence, attract significant, suitable penalties.

Move-on Direction, too, is a frequent “public disorder” that in addition to various other circumstances, concerns a person who is intoxicated in a public place. More specifically speaking, if you are found intoxicated in a public place, a police officer may order you to leave the particular place and not return for a specific period of time, and this order would be called a Move-on Direction. A police offer will issue this order to you if he has reasons to believe that you are disorderly, and are likely to cause injury to any person or damage to the property. This is stated as an offence according to the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, Sect 198 & 199, Part 14.

Additionally, according to Sect 197 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, the police can also give Move-on Direction if they believe on reasonable grounds that the person’s behaviour or presence:

  1. is obstructing another person or persons or traffic, or
  2. constitutes harassment or intimidation of another person or persons, or
  3. is causing or likely to cause fear to another person or persons, so long as the relevant conduct would be such as to cause fear to a person of reasonable firmness.
  4. for the purpose of unlawfully supplying, or intending to unlawfully supply, or soliciting another person or persons to unlawfully supply, any illicit drug: for the purpose of obtaining, procuring or purchasing any illicit drug that it would be unlawful for the person to possess.

However, one must also know that it is not considered an offence if a public space is used for legitimate demonstration or for any purpose that the law deems as an organised assembly.

When a person is issued with Move-on Direction on account of being intoxicated in a public place, they must not return to the particular area (from where the person was asked to leave by the police on the account of being found intoxicated), for up to 6 hours after the direction to leave that area is issued. However, if the person fails to comply with this direction, they conduct an offence and will be penalised accordingly.

If you have been charged with the offence of failing to comply with a direction, it is advised that you take help of an expert solicitor who can provide you with honest and reliable advice and obtain a beneficial result for you. Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders are a team of such capable lawyers who, undoubtedly, are some of the best criminal defence lawyers in Sydney.

Contact us schedule a confidential consultation!


One must understand that offences causing “public disorder” are not taken casually by the Courts and involve significant penalties. According to the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities), Act 2002- Sect 199, failure to comply with Move-on Direction issued by a police officer is a Summary Offence under Summary Offences Act 1988, involving a maximum penalty of a fine of $220. However, if the police find that the person is being very unreasonable, they can even charge or arrest the person.


In order for you to plead guilty to the charge of not complying with Move-on Direction, the police must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Your speech, coordination, balance, and behaviour were noticeably affected
  • It was reasonably believed that the affected speech, coordination, balance and behaviour were a result of alcohol intake or any drug.
  • You were disorderly and likely a threat to the people and the property in the surroundings.
  • You persisted to engage in a drunken behaviour in the public place within the 6-hour duration of when the order to leave was given to you by the police officer.
  • A warning was given to you stating that it is an offence to remain intoxicated and disorderly in that or any other public place within 6 hours after the order was imposed on you by the police officer.

Once proven guilty of breaching the police order, you will be penalised with a fine. If you have been charged with the offence of failing to comply with a Move-on Direction notice, our team of expert criminal defence lawyers is here to help you with any legal advice that you might require in this, or any other legal matter.


If you decide to prove not guilty, you must prove before the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were declared intoxicated under unreasonable circumstances.
  • You were not disorderly.
  • You weren’t a risk to public safety or property.
  • You complied by the order of Move-on Direction and did not appear in the particular area within 6 hours of the order being issued to you by the police officer.

In such a case, the Prosecution will have to prove that your arguments are false and you did commit the offence. You should also know about some of the defence strategies that can help your case should you find yourself caught in the offence of “public disorder” and of not complying with Move-on Direction.


One of the most applicable and common defences, in this case, would be proving that there were no reasonable grounds to suggest that the accused was intoxicated. Lawful reason for being in the public place is another substantial defence strategy that can help you should you be charged with this offence. Some of the other common defence strategies that can be used to defend the charge of “public disorder” of Move-on Direction are as follows:

Duress: Duress, as a defence strategy, is defined as a situation when an individual is unlawfully coerced, by use of harmful threats and force, to perform an act that under ordinary circumstances, he or she would not perform. This strategy also takes into consideration the same harm, threats or restraints applied to any member of the family of the accused.

Necessity: necessity, as a defence strategy, signifies that the offence was committed as it seemed absolutely necessary to prevent a greater harm or imminent peril. Necessity overlaps with the strategy of Duress, but, is a difficult defence to prove in the Courts.

Self-Defence: The law of self-defence states that an accused is not to be found guilty if they conduct the action to avoid greater harm to themselves or to another person, to prevent the unlawful deprivation of their liberty or of another person, to protect property from unlawful taking, or to prevent criminal trespass.

If you have a defence to the charges of “public disorder” imposed on you, call us on (02) 9283 3033 to discuss the offence you are charged with. Our criminal defence lawyers are some of the best in Sydney and possess the remarkable know-how and rich experience of 29 years to figure out honest, reliable and workable legal advice for you.


The matters relating to “public disorders” such as breach of Move-on Direction, in particular, are heard in the Local Court.

Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, understand how exhausting a Court experience can be for someone caught in an offence, and therefore, we work to the best of our capabilities to provide you with expert legal advice that your case may require. With daily appearances in Criminal Courts, we possess the right expertise and bring a wealth of experience to your legal issues. If you or someone you know has been charged with an offence, we are here to support and guide your case.