Contaminating goods causing public alarm or economic loss

– section 249 of the Crimes Act 1958

Contaminating goods causing public alarm or economic lossWhen someone interferes with, harms or pollutes goods, causing public alarm or economic loss.

Examples of Contaminating Goods Causing Public Alarm or Economic Loss
  • A worker in a food processing factory posts a video of themselves urinating in the product
  • Someone sprays chemicals on an organic crop and publicly posts that the organic crop is contaminated
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Contaminating Goods Causing Public Alarm or Economic Loss?
  • The goods were not contaminated
  • You did not intend to cause public alarm or economic loss

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Can they prove that you contaminated any goods?
  • Can they prove that you intended to cause public alarm or economic loss?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is level 5 imprisonment (10 years) or a level 5 fine (1200 penalty units), or both.

This is a strictly indictable charge which means that your case must be heard in the County Court.
 

“Was there contamination?”

 

What is the legal definition of Contaminating Goods Causing Public Alarm or Economic Loss ?

Contaminating goods is when the contamination was intended to cause public alarm or anxiety, or economic loss through the public becoming aware of the contamination.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 249 of the Crimes Act 1958.1
 

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

Contaminating goods causing public alarm or economic loss can be a very serious offence, for example if the contamination is widespread or extreme and causes severe public alarm or causes a business to lose a large sum of money. In this case, you may face a prison term if you are found guilty. However, in the case that the contamination is not widespread and only upsets a few people, you would be more likely to face a fine.

 


[1] Crimes Act 1958 – Section 249

A person must not contaminate goods with the intention of causing, or being reckless as to whether or not the contamination would cause—
(a) public alarm or anxiety; or
(b) economic loss through public awareness of the contamination