The current creepy clown craze now terrifying communities in Australia poses risks, not only for the public at large, but also the offenders, where their actions may lead to criminal charges ranging from assault to more seriously manslaughter or even murder.
A person dressing in a way designed to cause fear in others and making gestures in a threatening manner may well find themselves faced with charges of assault. In Queensland a person can be charged with assault in circumstances where there has been no physical contact with another person. A person only needs to make a bodily act or gesture that attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to another without their consent and where the person making the attempt or threat has an actual or apparent ability to carry it out.
What about this situation? A person dresses as a creepy clown and makes threatening gestures causing another person to believe they are facing life threatening violence. In trying to getaway the victim dies. In Queensland, if a person dies in circumstances where they have a well-founded and reasonable apprehension that by remaining in the situation they would face life-threatening violence from another and in attempting to escape dies, the perpetrator may be charged with murder.
Under the definition of killing in the Queensland Criminal Code a person is deemed to have killed another if they threaten or intimidate another person in any way causing that person to do, or not do something, which results in their death.
This is the situation currently before the Supreme Court of Brisbane where a jury will soon decide if Gable Tostee caused the death of Warriena Wright. In this case both the defence and prosecution agree Mr Tostee did not push or throw Ms Wright off the 14th floor balcony of the Avalon apartments in Surfers Paradise. Applying Queensland law a jury may well conclude Mr Tostee murdered Ms Wright’s on the night of 7 August 2014.
The bottom line is if you’re thinking about being a clown, be careful, the result may not be a laughing matter!