Concealing a Serious Indictable Offence - Charges, Penalties and Sentencing

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Concealing a Serious Indictable Offence (NSW)


In New South Wales, concealing a serious indictable offence carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. A serious indictable offence is an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of five years or more.

What is concealing a serious indictable offence?

The offence of Concealing a Serious Indictable Offence is contained in section 316(1) of the Crimes Act 1900.

The provision states that a person commits an offence if they know or believe that a person has committed a serious indictable offence and fail to bring information to the attention of the police when that information may be of material assistance in apprehending the person for the serious indictable offence.

What is concealing a serious offence?

A person may be charged with this offence if they:

  • Fail to investigate or report allegations of child sexual abuse by a staff member;
  • Witness a serious assault or a robbery and believe that they have information that may assist the police, but do not make a police report;
  • Know that one of their friends is a drug dealer and know where and when they will be selling drugs and do not report this information to the police.

What must be proven?

To convict a person of Concealing a Serious Indictable Offence, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • A person has committed a serious indictable offence;
  • The accused knew, or believed that that person had committed that offence;
  • That the accused had information which might have been of material assistance;
    • In securing the apprehension of the offender; or
    • In the prosecution or conviction of the offender for it; and
  • You failed, without reasonable excuse, to bring that information to the attention of a member of the police force of other appropriate authority.

Knowledge gained in the course of profession

Prosecution of a person for this offence will not be commenced without approval of the Attorney General if the accused’s knowledge or belief that an offence had been committed was obtained by the person in the course of practicing or following a profession, calling or vocation prescribed by the regulations.

Prescribed professions include medical practitioners, psychologists, legal practitioners and social workers.

Defences

A person can validly defend a charge by arguing:

  • that the accused had a reasonable excuse for not bringing the information to the police’s attention;
  • that the accused acted under duress;
  • the information withheld would not have been of material assistance;
  • that the accused didn’t know or believe that someone had committed a serious indictable offence;

Jurisdiction

Concealing a Serious Indictable Offence is a Table 1 offence and is to be dealt with by the Local Court, unless you or the prosecution elect for the matter to be heard in the District Court on indictment. The summary disposal of these offences in the Local Court carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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