Offences Connected with Explosive Substances

– section 317 of the Crimes Act 1958
Creating Explosive
A person may be charged with offences connected with explosive substances contrary to section 317 of the Crimes Act 1958 if he/she unlawfully and maliciously uses an explosive substance to cause an explosion. The explosion must have had the potential to cause a serious injury or damage property whether it did or not.
Examples of Offences Connected with Explosive Substances
  • Using explosive substances to cause an explosion;
  • Mixing chemicals with the intention of causing an explosion which was likely to cause an injury or damage property.
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you know that mixing the substances would cause an explosion?
  • Were you responsible for creating the explosion?
  • Did you have a lawful excuse for causing the explosion?
  • Did the explosion have the potential to cause a serious injury or damage property?
What are some of the possible defences to Offences Connected with Explosive Substances?

Defences to this could be a factual dispute, the concept of beyond reasonable doubt, wrongful identification, or lack of intent.

You should call us to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers if you have been charged with this offence. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with one of our criminal lawyers.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is level 4 imprisonment or 15 years. This offence is a serious indictable offence and is generally heard in the County Court which can also be heard summarily in the Magistrates’ Court.

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What is the legal definition of Offences Connected with Explosive Substances?

Section 317 of the Crimes Act 1958 defines ‘explosive substance’ as:

  1. any material for making any explosive substance;
  2. any apparatus machine implement or materials used or intended to be used or adapted for causing or aiding in causing any explosion in or with any explosive substance; and
  3. any part of any such apparatus machine or implement.

Section 3 of the Crimes Act 1958 defines an ‘injury’ as –

unconsciousness, disfigurement, substantial pain, infection with a disease and an impairment of bodily function.
 
Legislation

This offence can be found in section 317 of Crimes Act 1958.

Elements of the offence

The Prosecution must satisfy a Magistrate or Judge of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Accused caused an explosion unlawfully and maliciously by using an explosive substance;
  2. The explosion was likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.
“Can the Prosecution prove that the explosion had the potential to damage property or cause a serious injury?”
Sentencing in the higher courts

Higher CourtIn the higher courts of Victoria, there were 25 charges of Makes or Possesses Explosive Substance Without Lawful Excuse – section 317(4) – that were heard from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016. More than half of these cases resulted in imprisonment (56%). There were also many who received wholly suspended sentences (36%) while the remainder were sentenced to a Community Correction Order (4%) and fine (4%).1

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.2

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

In the Magistrates’ Courts, 95 cases (102 charges) of Makes or Possesses Explosive Substance Without Lawful Excuse – section 317(4) were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. These resulted in a variety of penalties:

  • Imprisonment – 29.5%
  • Community Correction Order – 28.4%
  • Fine – 20.0%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 10.5%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 6.3%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 3.2%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 1.1%
  • Other – 1.1%

Of those who received imprisonment, the majority were sentenced to a period between 3 and 6 months (35.7% of those who were sentenced to prison). The highest term imposed was between 24 and 36 months but this type of prison terms occurred in only 3.6% of those who were handed imprisonment.

For the fines, the highest category imposed was “$3,000 < $4,000” (9.7% of those who received aggregate fines). However most were in the category “$1,000 < $2,000” at 19.4% for aggregate fines. For non-aggregate fines, the categories mostly imposed were “Less than $500” and “$500 < $1,000” (12.9% each).3

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.4

Other important resources
Media information

 



[1] SACStat Higher Courts – Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) : s 317(4) – makes or possesses explosive substance without lawful excuse < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_6231_317_4.html >
[2] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >
[3] SAC Statistics – Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) : s 317(4) – makes or possesses explosive substance without lawful excuse < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/6231_317_4.html >
[4] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >