Send Threatening Letter
In NSW it is an offence to send a letter which threatens to kill or injure another person.
A person can be charged with this offence if they send or deliver a letter which they know contains a threat of death or harm. A person can also be charged if they are directly or indirectly involved in causing someone to receive such a letter.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.
- Prison Sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Suspended Sentence
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
- Good Behaviour Bond
- Section 10A
- Conditional Release Order (CRO)
- Section 10
The Offence of Send Threatening Letter:
The offence of Send Threatening Letter is contained in section 31 of the Crimes Act 1900 and states:
- A person who intentionally or recklessly, and knowing its contents, sends or delivers, or directly or indirectly causes to be received, any document threatening to kill or inflict bodily harm on any person is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
- It is immaterial for the purposes of an offence under this section whether or not a document sent or delivered is actually received, and whether or not the threat contained in a document sent, delivered or received is actually communicated to the person concerned or to the recipient or intended recipient of the document (as relevant in the circumstances).
What Actions Might Constitute the Offence of Send Threatening Letter?
Examples of Send Threatening Letter include:
- Posting a letter to a girl which states, “I am going to kill you”;
- Putting a document your friend typed up in his ex-girlfriend’s letter box which reads, “If you stay with him I’ll knock his teeth out”; or
- Purchasing someone a sky diving voucher from an online site and typing the following message on the gift card, “Go jump out of a plane. I’ve made sure the parachute won’t open. This world is better off without you.”
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of Send Threatening Letter the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:
- That you intentionally or recklessly did an act;
- That act caused a letter or document to be sent, delivered or received by someone;
- That letter or document threatened to either kill or inflict bodily harm on another person; and
- You knew the contents of the document or letter.
Possible Defences for Send Threatening Letter:
The common ways to defend this charge are:
- To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
- To argue that you did not cause a letter or document to be sent, delivered or received by someone;
- To argue that you did not act intentionally or recklessly when you caused a letter or document to be sent, delivered or received by someone;
- To argue that the letter did not include a threat to kill or inflict bodily harm on a person;
- To argue that you did not know the document or letter contained a threat to kill or inflict bodily harm on a person; or
- To raise necessity, self-defence or duress as the reason for your conduct.
Which Court will Hear Your Matter?
The charge is a table one offence which means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the Department of Public Prosecutions or the person who has been charged elects to have the matter finalised in the District Court.
If the matter is finalised in the Local Court the court can only impose a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.
Types of Penalties:
Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.
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.