Other Acts Done In Preparation For, or Planning, Terrorist Acts

– section 101.6 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code
Planning Terrorist Act
This type of charge is generally laid in situations where a person has completed an act in preparation for, or planning of, a terrorist act. This charge will be laid irrespective of whether a terrorist act occurred or not.
Examples of Other Acts Done In Preparation For, or Planning, Terrorist Acts
  • An accused purchases parts to make a bomb. They plan to detonate this bomb at Commonwealth bank in order to make a statement against corporate greed.
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you do an act in preparation or planning of a terrorist act?
  • Were you preparing to cause serious physical harm, death or serious damage to property?
  • Were you motivated by a political, religious or ideological cause?
  • Were you intending to scare the public?
  • Were you intending to intimidate the government?
What are some of the possible defences to Other Acts Done In Preparation For, or Planning, Terrorist Acts?

Defences to this could be a factual dispute, wrongful identification, duress, honest and reasonable mistake of belief, impossibility, lack of intent, and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt. It is also a defence if the accused actually did not do an act which was in preparation for or planning of a terrorist act.

You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

Imprisonment
Acts done in preparation for, or planning of, terrorist acts are very serious Commonwealth offences which are heard in the Supreme Court. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for life.

What is the legal definition of Other Acts Done In Preparation For, or Planning, Terrorist Acts?

A person commits an offence if the person does any act in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist attack.

Legislation

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 101.6 of Criminal Code Act 1995.

Elements of the offence

To prove this charge, the Prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused completed an act in preparation for, or planning of,
  2. A terrorist act.

1. Did the accused complete an act in preparation or planning?
The prosecution merely has to prove that the accused completed an act in preparation of a terrorist act – they do not have to show that the accused completed a terrorist act.

An accused commits an offence even if:

  1. A terrorist act does not occur; or
  2. Their act is not done in preparation for, or planning of, a specific terrorist attack; or
  3. Their act is done in preparation for, or planning, more than one terrorist attack.1

For instance, if an accused purchased parts to make an explosive device, and they had decided they were going to plant an explosive inside a Melbourne bank, but they hadn’t chosen which bank yet, this would still be sufficient to constitute an ‘act in preparation’.

2. Was the act in preparation or planning of a terrorist act?

  1. ‘Terrorist act’ means an action or threat of action where:
    1. The action falls within subsection (2) and does not fall within subsection (3) (discussed below)
    2. The action is done or the threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause; and
    3. The action is done or the threat is made with the intention of:
      1. coercing, or influencing by intimidation, the government of the Commonwealth or a State, Territory or foreign country, or of part of a State, Territory or foreign country; or
      2. intimidating the public or a section of the public.2
         

    An act will only constitute a terrorist act if it is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause. For instance, if a person pulls out a gun and shoots their ex-partner in public, that would usually be considered murder, rather than a ‘terrorist’ attack. However, shooting a group of people exiting a synagogue might be considered a terrorist attack, if this action was done with the intention of advancing an ideological cause.

    An act will only be considered a terrorist act if it falls within subsection 2.

Call Doogue + George

  1. Action falls within subsection (2) if it:
    1. causes serious harm that is physical harm to a person; or
    2. causes serious damage to property; or
    3. causes a person’s death; or
    4. endangers a person’s life, other than the life of the person taking the action; or
    5. creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public; or
    6. seriously interferes with, seriously disrupts, or destroys, an electronic system including, but not limited to:
      1. an information system; or
      2. a telecommunications system; or
      3. a financial system; or
      4. a system used for the delivery of essential government services; or
      5. a system used for, or by, an essential public utility; or
      6. a system used for, or by, a transport system.
         

    Subsection (2) limits terrorist acts to acts of a serious nature. For instance, an act which causes serious physical harm could be considered a terrorist act. However, an act which causes only psychological or emotional harm would likely not be a terrorist act.

    An act will not be considered a terrorist act if it falls within subsection 3.

  2. Action falls within subsection (3) if it:
    1. is advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action; and
    2. is not intended:
      1. to cause serious harm that is physical harm to a person; or
      2. to cause a person’s death; or
      3. to endanger the life of a person, other than the person taking the action; or
      4. to create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public.
         

    Subsection (3) ensures that acts done for the purpose of legitimate protest are not considered terrorist attacks. For instance, a group of protesters might vandalise Parliament House by covering it in graffiti and breaking the windows. While they may be liable for other criminal offences, they would be not liable for a terrorist attack, as the damage was intended to be limited to property only.

“Can they prove you were preparing for or planning a terrorist act?”
Other important resources
Media information

 



[1] Commonwealth Criminal Code Section 101.6 (2)
[2] Commonwealth Criminal Code Section 100.1(1)