Call Our National Legal Hotline

1300 038 223
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 days
Or have our lawyers call you:

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Terrorism Offences


Following the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, Australia introduced terrorism-specific laws to the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995. The laws cover aspects of terrorism including planning an attack, financing and recruitment. This article provides a general summary of the laws.

Terrorist acts

The Criminal Code defines a terrorist act as an action or threat of action done with an intention to:

  • advance a political, religious or ideological cause; or
  • coerce or influence by intimidation a state, commonwealth or foreign government; or
  • intimidate the public or a section of the public.

If a person engages in, prepares for, or plans a terrorist act, they face imprisonment for life. This applies even if a terrorist attack does not occur.

Training

If a person provides or receives training connected with preparing for, engaging a person in, or helping a terrorist act, and they know of the connection, they are liable to 25 years in prison. If they are reckless about a connection, they are liable to 15 years in prison.

Possessing things

If a person possesses a thing connected with preparing for, engaging a person in, or helping a terrorist act, and they know of the connection, they are liable to 15 years in prison. If they are reckless about a connection, they are liable to 10 years in prison.

Collecting or making documents

If a person collects or makes documents connected with preparing for, engaging a person in, or helping a terrorist act, and they know of the connection, they are liable to 15 years in prison. If they are reckless about a connection, they are liable to 10 years in prison.

Terrorist organisations

The Criminal Code defines a terrorist organisation as an organisation directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, helping or fostering the doing of a terrorist act.

A person faces 25 years in prison if they direct the activities of a terrorist organisation, knowing it is one. If they are reckless about whether it is one, they face 15 years in prison.

Membership of a terrorist organisation carries a 10-year prison term. Recruiting for one carries a 25-year prison term, if the person knowns it is one, or a 10-year term if they are reckless about whether it is one.

If a person provides, receives or takes part in training with a terrorist organisation, and the person is reckless about whether it is one, they face a 25-year jail term.

If a person intentionally provides or receives or collects funds for a terrorist  organisation, they face 25 years in prison. The same penalty applies to a person who provides support or resources to a terrorist organisation to help it carry out a terrorist attack.

If a person intentionally associates with someone from a terrorist organisation, and knows they are from a terrorist organisation, and the person does this on 2 or more occasions, the person faces 3 years in prison. This does not apply if the association is with a close family member; is made for religious or humanitarian reasons; or is made for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Financing terrorism

If a person provides or collects funds for a terrorist act, and they are reckless about whether the funds will be used for that purpose, they face imprisonment for life. This applies even if a terrorist attack does not occur.

Advocating terrorism

A person who advocates the doing of a terrorist act or the commission of a terrorism offence, and is reckless about whether another person will do those things, is liable to imprisonment for 5 years. “Advocates” means to counsel, promote, encourage or urge.

Control orders

The Criminal Code allows a court to impose a control order on a person to:

  • protect the public from a terrorist attack;
  • prevent support for or the facilitation of a terrorist act;
  • prevent support for or the facilitation of engagement in a hostile activity in a foreign country.

A control order can be requested by the Australian Federal Police if the agency suspects on reasonable grounds a person has committed a terrorism offence.  The order can contain conditions such as:

  • a prohibition or restriction on the person being in specified areas or places;
  • a prohibition or restriction on the person leaving Australia;
  • a prohibition or restriction on the person communicating or associating with specified people;
  • a prohibition or restriction on the person carrying out specified activities;
  • a requirement the person wear a tracking device;
  • a requirement the person allow their fingerprints and photo to be taken;
  • a requirement the person take part in specified counselling or education.

If a person subject to a control order breaches the order, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years.

Preventative detention orders

The Criminal Code allows for a person to be taken into custody and detained to prevent a terrorist act that is capable of being carried out within the next 14 days, or to preserve evidence of a terrorist act carried out in the past 28 days. The order can be extended only by a judge or other experienced lawyer.

A preventative detention order can be granted if the Australian Federal Police or issuing authority suspects on reasonable grounds the subject:

  • will engage in a terrorist act; or
  • possesses a thing connected to a terrorism act; or
  • has done an act to prepare or plan a terrorist act.

Continuing detention orders

The Criminal Code allows a court to impose a continuing detention order on a person who has served a sentence for a terrorist offence. The order allows the offender to be detained for up to a further 3 years when their sentence ends, on the grounds the offender is an unacceptable risk to the community.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Armstrong Legal
Social Rating
4.8
Based on 332 reviews
×
Legal Hotline
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223