Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses (NSW)

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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...

Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses


In NSW, Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment. Intimidation and threats to witnesses are seen most often in offences involving violence, particularly in domestic violence offences.

The Offence of Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses

The offence of Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses is contained in section 315A of the Crimes Act 1900 which states: A person who threatens to do or cause, or who does or causes, any injury or detriment to any other person intending to influence any person not to bring material information about an indictable offence to the attention of a police officer or other appropriate authority is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

“Material information” means information that a person has that might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of a person who has committed an indictable offence, or the prosecution or conviction of any such person.

What Actions Might Constitute Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses?

  • Asking a witness to testify in a certain way, for example, to give a particular version of events, to lie, to not report a crime or to not cooperate with police.
  • Threatening the witness’s family members or loved ones with the intention of causing the person to not provide evidence.
  • Harassing a victim on Facebook, or posting harassing messages on other social media sites about the victim with the intention of causing them not to give evidence.
  • Asking a witness not to attend court for a hearing

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you:
    • Did or caused; or
    • Threatened to do or cause;
    • an injury or detriment to any other person; and
  • Intended to influence any person not to bring material information about an indictable offence to the attention of a police officer of any other appropriate authority.

Possible Defences for Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses

Possible defences to a Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses charge include but are not limited to:

  • That your threats or intimidation was not intended to influence someone to withhold information to the police or other relevant authority;
  • That the information not disclosed by virtue of your threats/intimidation was not material to the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of a person;
  • That you maintain your innocence that you did not make the threat or intimidate as alleged; or
  • You could raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Threatening or Intimidating Victims or Witnesses 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.

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