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.

Types of Penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

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.

Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10A: A section 10A is a conviction, with no other penalty attached to it. 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.

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