Document containing threats

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What is Document containing threats ?

The offence of Document Containing Threats occurs when one posts or sends a letter or communication which threatens to harm, injure or kill another person.

Some examples of the offence of document containing threats might include

  • Posting a letter to your old boss saying, “I am going to kill you”;
  • Writing to a family member saying the world is better off without you – “I hope you die”; and/or
  • Writing to a member of parliament and threatening to harm them

Jurisdiction

The offence of Document Containing Threats is what is known as a Table 1 offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made on indictment by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The Law

Section 31 of Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides that:

A person who intentionally or recklessly, and knowing its contents, sends or delivers, or directly or indirectly causes to be received, any document threatening to kill or inflict bodily harm on any person is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

What must the prosecution prove?

Since Documents Containing Threats is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Documents Containing Threats.

To establish Document Containing threats, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you intentionally or recklessly did an act;
  • That act caused a letter or document to be sent, delivered or received by someone;
  • That letter or document threatened to either kill or inflict bodily harm on another person; and
  • You knew the contents of the document or letter.

If you are charged with the offence of Document containing threats what are your options?

National Criminal Lawyers (NCL) have been successful in defending a large number of Document Containing threats charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Document Containing threats. We have also achieved a number of non-convictions for Document Containing threats charges.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with Document Containing threats

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended ;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that the prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing)with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Pleading Guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.

Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.

Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.

Maximum Penalties

Document containing threats can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) or up to 10 years (If heard in the District Court).

Please note that the penalties mentioned are reserved for the worse case offending and are unlikely to be the penalty you receive.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.
A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers. Our Top Lawyers Sydney, headed by Michael Moussa, one of Sydney’s Best Criminal Lawyers will ensure that your best case is put forward and will advise you on whether an applicable legal defence exists at law.
National Criminal Lawyers have defended numerous people charged with document containing threats and are experts at these hearings.

Defences

Sometimes the elements of document containing threats can be established however there also may exist a defence at law. Some of the possible defences available for those charged with document containing threats can include:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you did not cause a letter or document to be sent, delivered or received by someone;
  • To argue that you did not act intentionally or recklessly when you caused a letter or document to be sent, delivered or received by someone;
  • To argue that the letter did not include a threat to kill or inflict bodily harm on a person;
  • To argue that you did not know the document or letter contained a threat to kill or inflict bodily harm on a person; or
  • If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue “Duress”
  • If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of “Necessity”.
  • If you were defending yourself or another OR yours or another’s property you may have a Defence of “Self-Defence”

For more possible defences that could be applicable to your case, please visit our dedicated criminal defences page.

Statistics

The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green [2011] HCA 45, the plurity judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

For Document containing threats 70% of offenders received a full-time prison sentence. Our Best Criminal Lawyer Sydney have achieved results where no convictions were recorded.

National Criminal Lawyers have non-convictions for Document Containing Threats charges.

Possible Penalty's

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a contravene AVO charge.

  • Prison sentence;
  • Home Detention;
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention);
  • Suspended sentence;
  • Community service order (CSO);
  • Good behaviour bond;
  • Fine; and/or
  • Section 10

However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available;
  • New Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Fine; and/or
  • New Conditional release Order (CRO)

For more information about the what penalties the NSW Courts can impose, please visit our dedication Penalties page.

Case Studies

Our client was charged with document containing threats to a neighbour who police alleged had threatened to kill the neighbour.

Our client argued that the neighbour had provoked the incident and had been the threatening party during the course of the interaction. The case was heard before the Local Court over 2 days.

The court was satisfied the client was acting in defending himself and his family. Moreover, given the large number of inconsistencies between the witnesses during cross-examination our client was acquitted of the charges.

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with document containing threats, our Team and National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
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