A crime does not need a victim to be considered illegal, despite what “sovereign citizens” are telling Australian police when pulled over for driving offences.
He cites sovereign citizen theories when refusing to comply. “The law that you say is not a law,” the man says (video mark 2min 36sec). When told he will be arrested, he says: “It’s not a crime. Where is the victim?” (video mark 2min 53sec).
In sharing the video, the poster repeats the claim, stating: “A crime needs a victim. Where is the victim?”
Legal experts told AAP FactCheck the claim that a crime needs a victim, or an injured party, isn’t backed up by Australian law, calling the views of sovereign citizens “pseudo-legal arguments”.
Christopher Corns, a legal professor at La Trobe University, told AAP FactCheck the post’s claim was false.
“It is legally incorrect that for a crime to be a crime there must be a victim,” Dr Corns said in an email.
“There is no requirement under any Australian law (state or federal) that a crime must have an injured party,” Dr Hobbs told AAP FactCheck in an email.
Dr Hobbs said there was no legal basis in claiming a law was not a law or you “do not consent”, as the man in the video repeatedly states.
“There is also no requirement that you must consent to a law before it operates upon you. If you are in Australia you must abide by all laws that have been passed by the parliament and have received Royal Assent,” he said.
Dr Hobbs said there were many examples of so-called “victimless” crimes including drug possession and use.
Dr Corns cited the Victorian Crimes Act 1958, which includes categories such as conspiracy (page 339), incitement (page 345) and attempts (page 351), which he said “do not require a victim.”
He said there were also “hundreds of ‘regulatory’ criminal offences or ‘strict liability’ offences where the offender does not even need to have a specific intention (Mens Rea) and there does not need to be a victim”.
“There is a large body of law which is preventive in terms of reducing risk through licensing, registration, operating rules and other forms of regulation,” Professor Prenzler told AAP FactCheck in an email.
“You could say that the breaches or crimes that occur under this type of legislation are ‘victimless’, in that there are no direct victims, but lots of people were probably potential victims – of dangerous driving for example.”
Sovereign citizen adherents have described their beliefs as a “get out of jail free” card, but Dr Hobbs said that was fantasy.
“It connects neatly with the other pseudo-legal nonsense about the law being a contract, that the state law is defective in some way, etc. It does not work and will likely only lead to more problems for people who invoke it as a get out of jail free card.”
AAP FactCheck has previously debunked another claim about traffic laws from the same Facebook user.
The claim that a crime needs a victim is false. There is no requirement for a criminal charge to have a victim under Australian law.
Legal experts told AAP FactCheck there are numerous preventative offences to stop a crime occurring such as drug possession and traffic laws such as driving unlicensed. There are also “victimless” crimes such conspiracy, incitement and attempts at crime.
False – The claim is inaccurate.