Activist Rights

Common criminal charges

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The normal range of criminal charges is open to university authorities to report matters to police in dealing with student dissent and actions. Initiating criminal charges can be an embarrassment to university administration. You could consider using this as a strategy to force the university to drop charges or to avoid charging students in the first place. Many of these offences are dealt with in more detail in Common charges and offences.

If you are not a student (or staff member) your rights to be on campus are broad but qualified. Officers of a university can legally order you to leave (for whatever reason) under the trespass law of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic).

See the Trespass section for more information.

Under Section 9 (1C)(a) of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic), a person can be warned off university premises, orally or in writing, so that entering university grounds can be an offence.
Other Offences

The University may seek to have police bring other charges (see Common charges and offences).

Offences such as obstruction, unlawful assembly and offensive behaviour may apply.

The Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) gives a broad definition of “public place” so as to include private property open to or used by even a small number of members of the public. Given this definition, it is easy to see how universities can be characterised as “public places” where police see fit for the purposes of charging students with offences with a “public place” element.

Increasingly, universities are arranging for police presence when they anticipate a protest so you also need to be aware of the offences of assaulting and resisting or hindering police.

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