Threats to Sabotage
– section 247L of the Crimes Act 1958
This charge applies to people who threaten to damage a public facility by committing a property offence or causing an unauthorised computer function. The threat must be so great that the person to whom the threat is made is in fear that the threat will be actioned. Threats can be explicit, implicit, conditional and unconditional. The legislation further explains that ‘fear’ that a threat will be carried out is the same as ‘apprehension’.
It is a very serious charge that is heard in the County Court.
What is the legal definition of Threats to Sabotage?Threats to sabotage
- A person who—
- makes to another person a threat to damage a public facility by committing a property offence or by causing an unauthorised computer function; and
- intends that person to fear that the threat will be carried out and will cause—
- major disruption to government functions; or
- major disruption to the use of services by the public; or
- major economic loss—
- In the prosecution of an offence against this section it is not necessary to prove that the person threatened actually feared that the threat would be carried out.
- For the purposes of this section—
- a threat may be made by any conduct and may be explicit or implicit, conditional or unconditional; and
- a threat to a person includes a threat to a group of persons; and
- fear that a threat will be carried out includes apprehension that it will be carried out.
“Have you been accused of making a threat to sabotage?”
Examples of Threats to Sabotage
- A person has lost their job at a power station and they yell to their former boss and employees that they will ‘burn the place down’ causing those present to fear that they would light a fire.
- A person says casually that they could create a computer bug and implant in the computer system of a government agency. The person they say it too knows that they have a history of hacking and becomes fearful about what they may do.
- A very agitated person gets of a tram and threatens to disrupt its course later in the evening.
LegislationThe legislation for this offence can be found on section 247L of Crimes Act 1958.
Elements of the offenceIn essence to prove this charge the Prosecution must show that the accused made a threat to another person to damage a public facility by committing a property offence or by causing an unauthorised computer function and the accused intended that the other person would fear that the threat would be carried out and would cause major disruption to government functions or major disruption to the use of services by the public or major economic loss.
Defences to this could be a factual dispute, lack of intent or duress.
Questions in cases like this
- What were the circumstances of the alleged threat.
- Was it a threat?
- Could it cause fear or apprehension to the reasonable person?
The offence of Threats to Sabotage carries a maximum penalty of level 4 imprisonment (15 years).