This article was written by Anastasia Qvist - Associate - Canberra

Ana is based in our Canberra office and practices in both ACT and NSW jurisdictions. Ana has over 5 years’ experience working as a criminal law advocate. Ana has appeared in the Local, District and Supreme Court in NSW and the Magistrates Court in the ACT. Ana is a strong advocate in the courtroom and has appeared without counsel in...

Use Carriage Service For a Hoax Threat


It is an offence to improperly use a carriage service for a hoax or fake threat. The offence of use carriage service for a hoax threat is contained in section 474.16 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 15 penalty units. This offence applies in all states and territories.

The Offence of Use Carriage Service for a Hoax Or Threat

The offence is committed where a person:

  • uses a carriage service to send a communication; and
  • intends to create a false belief that an explosive, dangerous or harmful substance or thing has been left in any place.

A person who commits the offence of use carriage service for a hoax threat is liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to 15 penalty units.

What Must the Police Prove?

In order for a person to be convicted of this offence, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:

  • engaged in the conduct voluntarily;
  • used a carriage service;
  • sent a communication; and
  • intended to create a false belief that an explosive, dangerous or harmful substance or thing has been left in any place.

The police do not need to prove that any recipient actually believed that the threat was real.

Law enforcement agencies can request personal details or other identifiers (such as an IP address) from telecommunication providers for particular calls made by a person.

What Are Examples Of The Offence?

The offence includes making calls or sending texts to either specific people, businesses or agencies that are intended to cause them to believe an explosive, dangerous or harmful substance or thing, has been left in any place. An example includes a bomb threat made to ‘000’.

Possible Defences

It may be possible to defend the charge by:

  • arguing that the alleged offender did not use a carriage service;
  • arguing that no communication was sent;
  • arguing that the alleged offender did not intend to create a false belief that an explosive, dangerous or harmful substance or thing has been left in any place.

What court will hear the matter?

As this offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment it is available for the matter to be dealt with in the summary jurisdiction. This means the Local Court in NSW and the Magistrates Court in the ACT. The Commonwealth DPP will have to agree to the matter remaining in the summary jurisdiction of the specific state or territory.  If the Commonwealth DPP do not consent the matter will proceed to the District Court in NSW and the Supreme Court in the ACT.

If dealt with in the summary jurisdiction the maximum penalty an alleged offender can receive is reduced 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 15 penalty units.

Section 20BQ Application – Mental Illness or Intellectual Disability

If the matter remains in the summary jurisdiction of courts in different states and territories, an alleged offender can apply under section 20BQ of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) for the charge to be dismissed and for them to be discharged with or without conditions on the basis of mental illness or intellectual disability.

The court will take into account the facts of the case and circumstances of the alleged offender and any other relevant material. The court will only divert an alleged offender from the ordinary criminal procedure if satisfied it is more appropriate to do so.

Penalties

As using a carriage service for a hoax threat this is a Commonwealth offence, if a person has entered a plea of guilty or been found guilty they will be sentenced under Commonwealth sentencing laws. Commonwealth penalties on sentence include:

The person can also receive other sentence options that are available in the applicable state or territory where the matter is heard. This means for offences in NSW, conditional release orders, community correction order (CCO) and intensive correction orders (ICO) are also available. For offences in the ACT, this means that good behaviour orders, suspended sentences and intensive correction orders are also available sentencing options.

If you require legal advice on using a carriage service for a hoax threat or any other legal matter contact Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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