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Telecommunication Offences (NSW)

Telecommunication offences are offences that are committed through the use of telecommunication services and devices. Some of the more common examples of telecommunication offences are those committed over the internet and telephone.

Commonwealth or State offence?

Telecommunication offences are typically Commonwealth offences. This is because the Constitution confers the power to make laws relating to “postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services” on the Federal Parliament, rather than state parliaments. However, certain acts that involve telecommunication devices or services   may also constitute state offences. An example would be where a person calls another person and makes threats over the phone. Such actions could constitute a state offence of Intimidation or, if it occurred in contravention of an AVO, an offence of Contravene Prohibition in Apprehended Violence Order. Other common state offences which may involve the use of telecommunications are: Revenge Porn offences, Fraud and Computer offences.

Commonwealth Offences apply throughout Australia, rather than from state to state. The Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth) governs Commonwealth criminal offences, prosecution and sentencing. The Criminal Code, which is a schedule to this Act, contains the majority of commonwealth offences, including the telecommunication offences. Commonwealth telecommunication offences include:

  1. Use Carriage Service to Menace/Harass/Offend;
  2. Use Carriage Service to Threaten Life;
  3. Use Carriage Service to Threaten Serious Harm;
  4. Use Carriage Service for Hoax Threat;
  5. Improper Use of Emergency Call Service;
  6. Offences relating to use of carriage service for child abuse material or sexual activity with person under 16;
  7. Using a carriage service for suicide related material; and
  8. Using a carriage service for sharing of abhorrent violent material.

New telecommunications offences

Over the past few decades, the Criminal Code has been amended a number of times to introduce new telecommunication offences. This is a response to changing societal attitudes and developing technologies that allow communication and information to be transmitted over vast spaces very quickly. As a result of these advances, criminal activity can now occur over these telecommunications systems. Crimes including online fraud, accessing of child abuse material or using a carriage service to threaten life or menace/harass/offend are examples of such offences that have emerged only in the past few decades.

In recent times, the legislation has been amended to introduce serious criminal offences for using a carriage service to procure a child for sexual activity outside of Australia or to use a carriage service to engage in a sexual act with a child outside of Australia. This reflects an increase in offenders using the internet to abuse children in other jurisdictions, such as the Philippines.

These types of offences can carry very serious penalties upon conviction, including jail sentences. A telecommunications offence can be committed through a variety of means, including, but not limited to telephone calls, text messages and communication via social media sites and applications.

If you require legal advice in relation to telecommunications offences or any other legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.

Trudie Cameron

This article was written by Trudie Cameron

Trudie Cameron is the Practice Director of Criminal Law and is responsible for supervising and managing the New South Wales Criminal Law team in addition to her own caseload. She practices in both NSW and the ACT. Trudie is an accredited specialist in criminal law, practising exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Trudie defends clients charged with both state and...

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