People often ask our criminal lawyers the question: is threatening someone against the law in Australia? Yes, it can be an offence to threaten someone. However, this largely depends on the legislation and the kinds of threats that a party makes.
In Australia different states may have different legislation that are relevant when discussing “is threatening someone against the law in Australia.” For instance, if someone threatens to kill another person, this is a criminal offence. In this article, we will explore the question of “is threatening someone against the law in Australia” by looking at various types of threats.
Is Threatening Someone Against the Law in Australia: Types of Threats
Parties may make different types of threats, and the punishment may differ depending on the nature of threats. Let’s consider certain kinds of threats below.
- Threat to harm or to inflict bodily harm
- Threat to kill
- Threat to property
- Making threats via documents or sending document threatening to harm
- Stalking or intimidation
- Making threats via a carriage service
Is Threatening Someone Against the Law in Australia: Legislation
In this section, we will look at the legislation in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Queensland (QLD) and New South Wales (NSW). Section 359 of the Criminal Code 1889 (QLD) states that:
A person who threatens to cause a detriment to a second person with intent to:
- prevent or hinder any person, other than the first person from doing any act which the other person is lawfully entitled to do, or
- with intent to compel the other person to do any act which the other person is lawfully entitled to abstain from doing, or
- with intent to cause public alarm or anxiety
commits criminal offences.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
Moreover it states that the offender is liable to a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment if they make the threat to a law enforcement officer, or a person helping a law enforcement officer, because or when the officer is investigating the activities of a criminal organisation.
In the ACT, Section 30 under the Crimes Act 1900 states that if:
- a person makes a threat to another person to kill that person or someone else
- intending the other persons to fear that they would carry out the threat, or
- being reckless whether or not the other person would fear that they would carry out the threat, and
- they make the threat
- without lawful excuse, and
- in circumstances in which a reasonable person would fear that they would carry out the threat
the first person is guilty of a punishable offence. If the court convicts them of this offence, the court may sentence them to imprisonment for:
- 13 years – in the case of aggravated offences against this section
- 10 years – in any other case
In NSW, the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence Act) 2007 outlines the offence of stalking and intimidation with intent to cause fear and harm.
It states that a person who stalks or intimidates another person with the intention of causing the other person to fear physical or mental harm is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years or 50 penalty units, or both.
Furthermore, it states that for the purposes of this section, causing a person to fear physical or mental harm includes causing the person to fear physical or mental harm to another person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship.
In Australia, the law addresses threats through various legal avenues, encompassing legislation related to assault, harassment, stalking, and intimidation. The nature of these laws differs across states and territories. However, their purpose is to safeguard individuals from harm, fear, or intimidation induced by threats.
Threats can manifest in numerous forms, from explicit verbal intimidation to implicit gestures that suggest harm or danger. Under Australian law, these threats can lead to legal consequences, depending on the severity, intent, and impact on the victim.
Assault laws in Australia encompass both physical actions and the threat of physical harm. For instance, in New South Wales, an assault is defined as the intentional or reckless causing of another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. This includes threats that make a person fear for their safety. Penalties for assault or threats of violence can range from fines to imprisonment, contingent on the gravity of the offence.
Moreover, harassment laws protect individuals from persistent and unwanted behaviour that may cause fear, intimidation, or distress. Acts that constitute harassment may involve threats, whether communicated verbally, through written messages, or conveyed through actions. These laws vary across states, but they commonly aim to prevent behaviour that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for the victim.
Stalking legislation in Australia addresses repeated behaviour that causes fear or apprehension in another person. This behaviour can include threats, following, monitoring, or intimidating actions that instil a sense of unease or danger in the victim. In such cases it is found that the offender intended to cause fear.
Penalties for stalking offences also vary and can include fines or imprisonment, especially if the stalking behaviour involves threats of harm to the intended recipient.
Seeking Legal Advice
Intimidation laws in Australia are designed to protect individuals from coercion, duress, or threats that aim to induce fear or compel someone to act against their will. These laws encompass a wide range of behaviours that can cause fear, ranging from direct verbal threats to implied intimidation through actions or gestures.
The legal consequences for making threats in Australia can be severe, and penalties depend on the specific circumstances of the case, including the nature of the threat, the intent behind it, and its impact on the victim. Penalties may include fines, restraining orders, community service, or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence and the relevant state or territory laws.
Seeking legal advice is crucial if you’re facing threats or have been accused of making threats. Consulting with a lawyer who specialises in the laws of the specific Australian jurisdiction where the incident occurred can provide guidance on your rights and the legal options available. Whether you are dealing with threats of sexual assault, common assault or damage to property, seek advice today.
Contact our team for more information.