In a world increasingly concerned with product safety and consumer protection, the issue of contamination of goods carries significant weight. This is a serious issue in Australia, and the country has provisions in place to prevent it.
These provisions protect consumers and the environment from harmful effects of contaminated goods. In this article, we will provide an overview of the Criminal Act 1900, Division 3: Contamination of Goods in Australia.
Section 93J: Definitions of “Contaminate” and “Goods”
Section 93J of the Crimes Act defines “contaminate” and “goods” below:
1. “Contaminate” goods include:
- Tampering with the goods
- Creating the impression that the goods have been contaminated or tampered with
2. “Goods” encompasses any substance or article:
- Whether intended for human consumption or not
- Whether natural or manufactured
- Whether combined or mixed with other goods or not
In this Division about contamination of goods, a reference to economic loss caused by public awareness of goods contamination includes a reference to economic loss caused by:
- Consumers who refrain from purchasing or using those goods or similar goods
- Measures taken to prevent public alarm or anxiety about those goods or similar goods
Section 93K: Contaminating Goods With Intent to Cause Public Alarm or Economic Loss
Section 93K of provisions of contamination of goods states that an individual who intentionally contaminates goods with the aim of:
- Inducing public alarm or anxiety;
- Causing economic loss through public awareness of the contamination;
is subject to a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
Section 93L: Threatening to Contaminate Goods With Intent to Cause Public Alarm or Economic Loss
Section 93L states that an individual who threatens the contamination of goods with the aim of:
- Inducing public alarm or anxiety;
- Causing economic loss through public awareness of the threatened contamination;
is subject to a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. For the purposes of this section, an individual can make a threat through any action and it can be explicit or implicit, conditional or unconditional.
Section 93M: Making False Statements Concerning Contamination of Goods With Intent to Cause Public Alarm or Economic Loss
Section 93M states that an individual who makes a statement they know to be false:
- With the intention of leading the person to whom the statement is made or others to believe that goods have been contaminated.
- With the further intention of:
- Causing public alarm or anxiety
- Causing economic loss through public awareness of the alleged contamination
is subject to a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Furthermore, for the purposes of this section, making a statement includes conveying information through any means of communication.
Section 93N: Aggravated Circumstances – Unwarranted Demand
Section 93N of provisions about contamination of goods outline aggravated circumstances–unwarranted demand. Moreover, an individual is guilty of an offence under this section if they commit an offence under section 93K, 93L, or 93M. The offence must be in connection with an unwarranted demand that they have made.
An unwarranted demand is a demand that the individual believes they have no reasonable grounds for making. Additionally, an individual convicted of an offence under this section is subject to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
If, during the trial of an individual for an offence under this section, the jury is not convinced that the accused is guilty of the offence charged but is convinced based on evidence that the accused is guilty of an offence under section 93K, 93L, or 93M, they may find the accused not guilty of the offence charged but guilty of the latter offence, and the accused is liable to punishment accordingly.
Section 93O: Aggravated Circumstances – Death or Grievous Bodily Harm
Section 93O of provisions about contamination of goods outlines aggravated circumstances that caused death or grievous bodily harm. People are guilty of an offence if they committed an offence under section 93K or 93L and:
- Any person dies or suffers grievous bodily harm as a result of the contaminated goods
- The person intentionally wants the contamination to result in death or harm
Grievous bodily harm (GBH) is a legal term used to describe a serious bodily injury that is considered a grave offence. GBH generally encompasses injuries that cause significant damage to a person’s health or impair their physical functioning. Click here for the Crimes Act 1900’s definition of the term.
What if the jury determines that the accused is not guilty of the offence under the current section, but the evidence suggests that they are guilty of the lesser offence under section 93K or 93L? If this is the case, the jury has the authority to find the accused not guilty of the charged offence but guilty of the lesser offence.
The accused will then face punishment in accordance with the penalties associated with the lesser offence.
Section 93P: Special Provisions Relating to Geographical Application of This Division
Section 93P states that an individual is considered to have committed an offence under this Division if:
- They engage in an act outside the State’s territory that would constitute an offence under this Division if it had been committed within the State’s boundaries
- The offence involves the intent to cause public fear, unrest, or economic harm within the State
An individual who commits an offence under this section can be prosecuted and is subject to the same penalties as if they had committed the offence within the State’s jurisdiction.
What if an offence against a provision of this Division involves the intent to cause public fear, unrest, or economic harm within the State? Then, a direct geographical link between the State and any other aspect of the offence is not required.
The following applies to an offence to which this section applies as if it had been committed within the State:
- The other provisions of this Act
- The provisions of other Acts; and
- The common law, to the extent that they are applicable,
This section is supplementary to and does not diminish any other basis on which the State’s courts may exercise criminal jurisdiction.
Contamination of Goods Australia: Other Laws
The Criminal Code Amendment (Food Contamination) Bill 2018 amended the Criminal Code Act 1995. The amendments included the increase of maximum penalties available for the offences of:
- Contaminating of goods;
- Threats to contaminate goods; and
- Other related offences.
Under the bill, the maximum penalty for contaminating goods with the intention of causing public alarm or economic loss is 15 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for contaminating goods with the intention of causing harm to another person is life imprisonment.
JB Solicitors’ Criminal Lawyers
JB Solicitors are well-versed with comprehensive legal counsel and representation to ensure the best possible outcome of your case. Are you facing charges for intentional contamination, false statements, or threats related to goods contamination?
Our team of criminal lawyers will provide you with unwavering support and expert guidance throughout the legal process. We will represent you in court, negotiate with prosecutors, and ensure the protection of your rights at every stage.
Contact us if you need help with cases related to contamination of goods.