Act of Indecency

Streeton Criminal Lawyers Sydney


Committing an act of indecency is an offence under section 61N of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The maximum penalty if the victim is under the age of 16 years is 2 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty if the victim is 16 years of age or older is 18 months imprisonment.

The charge may be dealt with before a magistrate in the Local Court or before a judge and jury in the District Court. If the charge is dealt with in the Local Court the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months and/or a fine of $2,200.


To prove an act of indecency, the prosecution must show beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • A person committed an act;
  • That act was indecent;
  • The act was done towards another person; and
  • That person did not consent to the act.

For the offence to be proved it does not require that the accused be in the immediate physical presence of the victim: R v Barrass [2005] NSWCCA 131.

What constitutes an “act of indecency”?

An indecent act is one which right minded persons would consider to be contrary to community standards of decency. The surrounding circumstances of the act may be considered by the court: Eades v Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) [2010] NSWCA 241.


You may have a defence if:

  • You did not commit the act;
  • The act was not indecent;
  • The act was not done towards another person.


Upon conviction, a person is liable to a penalty of imprisonment. Whether or not you receive a full time jail sentence will depend on the objective seriousness of the offence, whether you pleaded guilty to the offence, whether you have prior convictions, your subjective circumstances such as employment and health and whether remorse has been shown.

For the full range of penalties that can be imposed, see our Sentencing Options page.