Bomb Hoaxes

– section 317A of the Crimes Act 1958

The police use Bomb Hoaxes when they think someone has made a threat that there is a bomb.

Examples of Bomb Hoaxes
  • A person who wants to cause panic leaves a tin can on a tram with a hand-written label saying ‘BOMB.’
  • A boy has an upcoming exam that he wants to delay. On the day of the exam, he calls and says a bomb has been planted at the school.
What are some of the possible defences to a Bomb Hoax charge?
  • There was no intention to make the other person think a bomb had been planted.
  • Somebody else made the threat.

We had a client who did not want to sit an exam and so he contacted the school and said there was a bomb. He was otherwise a good young man and did not get a conviction.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was there a misunderstanding about a joke or lack of serious intention?
  • Was there a case of mistaken identity?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with Bomb Hoaxes

The maximum penalty for Bomb Hoaxes is 5 years, or a fine of 600 penalty units ($93, 276), or both.

Bomb Hoaxes is generally heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“Was it you who made the call?”


What is the legal definition of Bomb Hoaxes?

Legally defined, Bomb Hoaxes means placing a device somewhere, or making a statement of some form, with the intention of making another person believe that an active bomb has been planted.


The section that covers this offence is section 317A of the Crimes Act 1958.1
prison penalty sentencing 

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

As people get more worried about bombs the penalties for this offence increase. The Courts take it far more seriously than they would have 10 years ago.

Sentencing Outcomes in the Magistrates’ Courts2

From July 2013 to June 2016, 62 cases of Bomb Hoax were sentenced in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria. The majority of the cases resulted in an Adjourned Undertaking / Discharge / Dismissal (32.3%) and Community Correction Order (30.7%).

Other sentencing results include: Imprisonment (14.5%), Fine (14.5%), Partially Suspended Sentence (3.2%), Wholly Suspended Sentence (3.2%), and Others (1.6%).

Of the 9 cases that resulted in imprisonment, most (44.4%) were sentenced to a term of less than 3 months. The longest term imposed was between 6 and 18 months that was imposed in 22.2% of the cases.

Other Important Resources
Case Studies related to Bomb Hoaxes


[1] Crimes Act 1958 – Section 317A

(1) A person must not—
(a) place an article or substance in any place; or
(b) send an article or substance by any means of transportation—
with the intention of inducing in another person a false belief that the article or substance is likely to explode or ignite or discharge a dangerous or deleterious matter.
Penalty: Level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum) or a level 6 fine (600 penalty units maximum) or both.
(2) A person must not, whether within or outside Victoria, make a statement or convey information to another person which the person making the statement or conveying the information knows or believes to be false with the intention of inducing in that person or any other person a belief that an article or substance liable to explode or ignite or discharge a dangerous or deleterious matter is present in any place in Victoria.
Penalty: Level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum) or a level 6 fine (600 penalty units maximum) or both.
(3) For a person to be guilty of an offence against subsection (1) or (2) it is not necessary for him or her to have any particular person in mind as the person in whom he or she intends to induce the belief referred to in that subsection.
Division 2B of Part 4 of the Sentencing Act 1991 provides for the making of cost recovery orders in respect of costs incurred by emergency service agencies in providing an immediate response to an emergency arising out of the commission of an offence against this section.

[2] SACStat Magistrates’ Courts: Bomb Hoaxes (1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016)