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Criminal lawyers at Slater and Gordon have curated a list of some of Australia’s most bizarre criminal offences. These may seem fun to poke fun at, but if you think about the time these laws were written, these situations were no laughing matter!

“To understand why we have these laws, you really have to think back to the time when they were first introduced, enacted,” Criminal Lawyer Veronika Drago said to Lawyers Weekly. “For example, the potatoes law in Western Australia was introduced in 1946, when post-war food security and the Great Depression were pressing political issues.”

Some of WA’s quirkiest laws :

  1. Challenging another person to a duel is punishable by a maximum $6,000 fine or two years’ imprisonment [Section 72, Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].
  2. You can be jailed for up to a year for cleaning up seabird or bat poo without a licence
    [Section 387, Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].
  3. It is an offence to make a sign that offers a reward for the return of stolen or lost property if you promise not to ask any questions. Maximum penalty: $2,000 fine
    [Section 138, Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)].
  4. It is an offence to be in possession of more than 50kg of potatoes in WA, unless you have purchased the potatoes from a grower or retailer authorised by the Potato Corporation.
    Police also have the power to stop and search a vehicle suspected of carrying more than 50kg of potatoes.
    The maximum penalty is a $2,000 fine for a first offence or a $5,000 fine for subsequent offences, as well as a further penalty up to twice the value of the potatoes
    [Section 22, Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946 (WA)].

From around Australia:

  • South Australia: It is an offence to sell a fridge with a capacity of 42.5 litres or more, unless all of the doors can be easily opened from the inside or it was brought into the state before 1 January 1962. Maximum penalty is a $750 fine [Section 58B, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)].
  • South Australia: A $250 maximum penalty applies to a person who, without reasonable excuse, disturbs another by wilfully pulling or ringing the doorbell of a house or by knocking at the door of a house [Section 50, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)].
  • Victoria: Singing an obscene song or ballad in a public place can attract a maximum fine of $1,554.60 or two months’ imprisonment; $2,331.90 fine or three months’ imprisonment for a second offence; $3,886.50 fine or six months’ imprisonment for a third or subsequent offence [Section 17, Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)].

From around the World:

  • Paris law states that any man carrying onions must be given the right of way in the streets.
  • In China, ageing parents can sue their children if they don’t think they visit regularly.
  • In Alabama, it is considered an offence to open an umbrella on a street for fear of spooking horses.

If you’re wondering why these quirky laws are still around, think about how much time it would take to review every single one. A task like that is probably not very high up on any politicians to-do list! Have you heard of anything on our list of quirkiest laws? Let us know, Jeziel would love to hear from you! Text us, email us or send us a message on socials.

Once a week for their Believe it or Not segment Jeziel and Leon share a fun fact they’ve learnt over the last seven days, something that will make you raise an eyebrow and say ” sayy whhhhat?!”

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