1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Mar 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/03/2009   
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No Offence Meant
None Taken!

It has been said that ‘a man cannot break the law, he can only break himself upon the law.’ Whoever said that neglected to mention the myriad of ways it is possible to actually break yourself upon the law.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008 Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) reveals there are many interesting possibilities to make yourself a criminal. You may even be living a life of crime and not know it.

The next time you’re considering impressing your friends with your Lionel Hutz (the lawyer from The Simpsons) impression, bear in mind that to ‘impersonate a solicitor’ is an offence. In fact, ‘impersonation’ in general is against the law, which means Max Gillies is a criminal genius for escaping prosecution for so long.

Tricksters and con-artists can be charged with the offence ‘pretend to exercise conjurations to tell fortunes’ or ‘pretend to exercise witchcraft’. Genuine witches and fortune-tellers have nothing to worry about.

If you’re tempted to accuse someone of bad driving (or make remarks to that effect), you can consult the ASOC and choose from the following 5 alternatives; ‘careless driving’, ‘culpable driving’, ‘dangerous driving’, ‘negligent driving’ or ‘reckless driving’.

Conniving sportsmen?
Moving out the markers along the boundary line is an old trick cricketers use to make life harder for the batsmen. In recognition of this, the offence ‘interfere with boundary marks’ has been created to stamp out this insidious practice.

People who are convicted of the offence ‘use of improper verbal language’ will be sentenced to a minimum of three months at an approved school of linguistics.

Out of Tune
‘Manufacture false/illegal instruments, other than financial instruments’ clearly refers to things such as saxophones and barometers (an illegal saxophone contains a counterfeit reed).

If you intend to sell berley or worms to fishermen, beware of the offence of ‘bait advertising’.

‘Abduction’ on its own is a serious crime, however it’s uncertain who suffers more when you ‘Abduct with intent to marry.’ Regardless of the actual punishment, if a bloke gets convicted of this crime he can console himself with the knowledge that he’s escaped a life sentence with hard labour.

Drink riding?
It’s possible to be convicted of ‘horse riding under the influence of alcohol’ or ‘horse riding under the influence of drugs’. Strangely, these restrictions only apply to the rider, as there is no law against riding a drunk horse!

Feminists have often claimed that society is prejudiced towards men, and here’s the proof. ‘Setting mantraps’ is an offence, but because there is no female offence equivalent, it must be assumed perfectly legal to trap women at will.

Civil Servants?
Most public servants know from personal experience in pubs and clubs that many people have committed the offence ‘resist government officer’, but none were ever charged. Why is that?

Finishing on a serious note, ‘Census form, failure to complete’ is a chargeable offence. Why this heinous crime is not grouped with the likes of ‘sacrilege,’ ‘riot and affray’ and ‘pirates, aiding’ is quite mystifying.

To find all the other ways you can break the law, take a look at the latest edition of the Australian Standard Offence Classification (cat. no. 1234.0) and see if you can work your way through the list.

Paul Burns
Article By: Paul Burns (saved from a life of crime by a love of stats)