Normally when there is a criminal allegation, the particular state laws that apply are clear. It’s normally where the incident occurred, for example in NSW or Qld. If it’s a federal offence, regardless of where it happened, the Commonwealth DPP might prosecute the case, but the charges will be brought in the state or territory the incident occurred.
However, when someone is flying across states, or flying internationally in and out of Australia, the legal position can be slightly more complicated.
Federal Offences and the Jervis Bay Connection
Because aviation is a federal matter, offences committed on passenger planes are federal offences.
The Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 (Cth) governs what happens. As well as providing for specific offences such as hijacking, taking control of an aircraft, or assaulting members of the plane crew, it also makes most things that would be illegal on the ground illegal in the air.
It does this by picking up offences as they would apply in the Jervis Bay Territory, which is a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. So, if a person is 1) on-board an aircraft flying for example between 2 parts of Australia or within a state or territory; and 2) they do something that, if it had taken place in Jervis Bay, would be an offence; then they’re taken to committed the same offence with the same penalty. Most commonly known offences like assault, murder, intimidation or sexual offences are offences in Jervis Bay.
Normally, the Commonwealth DPP will prosecute these allegations where the accused was arrested. This is normally where the flight ends or where the person was questioned or arrested.
If you’ve been charged with an aviation related offence, contact us to speak with one of our experienced lawyers on (02) 90259888.