The countdown is on for thousands of school-leavers who will flock to popular holiday destinations for Schoolies celebrations next week, but parents and teenagers are being warned to remember the potential legal consequences of their behaviour.
Slater and Gordon Criminal Lawyer Emma Aldersea said while school-leavers are understandably excited about their first taste of freedom, it is important they are reminded that a split second decision could have lifelong consequences.
“This is most likely the first time these teens will be making choices without parental supervision, which is why it is so important they are aware of the impact an arrest or criminal charge could have on their future,” Ms Aldersea said.
“For example, having a criminal record can be a barrier when applying for a job and can also make it difficult to get a visa to visit or work in another country.”
Ms Aldersea said Schoolies can count on a heavy police presence.
“Police and Schoolies organisers have zero tolerance for illegal and antisocial behaviour, so there will be minimal lenience for anyone caught doing the wrong thing,” Ms Aldersea said.
“A lot of people also forget there is no such thing as a private post on social media and aside from being embarrassing, this could be used as evidence of criminal conduct.
“Taking, posting or forwarding sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 18 can lead to some serious criminal offences, including child pornography charges, even if you are a minor yourself.”
Ms Aldersea said parents also need to be mindful of the law relating to purchasing alcohol.
“While parents might have the best intentions when buying alcohol for their children, it is illegal to supply minors with alcohol, including your own children,” Ms Aldersea said.
“After completing 12 years of education, school-leavers deserve to let their hair down and have some fun, but they might regret trading their hard-earned academic record for a criminal one.”
Seven things to remember during the seven days of Schoolies
- Drinking in a public place is an offence, regardless of your age.
- Being drunk or ignorant of the law is not an acceptable defence to a crime.
- Queensland has heavy penalties for drug offences. If you are caught in possession of illicit drugs or sharing drugs with your friends, it can lead to a prison sentence.
- There is no such thing as a private post on social media. Anything you post online could be used as evidence in court.
- If approached by a police officer, you must give your name, address and, if you are under 17 years old, your age. If you are arrested, try to remain calm and you should ask to call your family and/or lawyer.
- You can be arrested and charged for offenses such as public nuisance, urinating in public, using offensive language and wilful exposure (flashing).
- It is illegal to use someone else’s ID card or to create a fake ID card. Lending someone your own ID can also lead to a hefty fine.