What is Terrorism?

People through complex cultural and social beliefs may be compelled to act in ways that break the law. The laws sanctioning terrorist acts in Australia are severe.

A person commits an offence punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment, if the person engages in a terrorist act (Section 101.1 Criminal Code 1995 (CTH).

A terrorist act is defined as an act or a threat to act that intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause AND that causes any of the following:

  • Death, serious harm or danger to a person;
  • Serious damage to property;
  • A serious risk to the health or safety of the public; and/or
  • Serious interference with, disruption to, or destruction of critical infrastructure such as a telecommunications or electricity network.”

The Criminal Code also now includes an array of terrorism offences consisting of:

  • Acts preparatory to a terrorist act, including directing the activities of a terrorist organisation (Section 102.2),
  • Being a member of a terrorist organisation (Section 102.3), and
  • Providing support for a terrorist organisation (Section 102.7).

New Laws

In 2005, the Criminal Code was again amended to introduce Control Orders and Preventative Detention Orders. Control Orders are orders to restrict the liberty of an individual for the purpose of protecting the public from a risk of terrorism.

Restrictions imposed by courts as part of a control order can include electronic tagging, curfews, house arrest, restrictions on associating with certain people and reporting requirements. In 2016, the legislation governing control orders was extended to children aged 14 and older.

In 2016, the Criminal Code was further amended to establish a scheme for the continued detention of high risk terrorist offenders who are assessed by a judge as posing an unacceptable risk of committing further terrorism offences at the end of their prison sentence.

What The Prosecution Must Prove

There are two limbs: the first is that you did an act or made a threat designed to influence the public or government to advance a political, religious or ideological cause. The second limb is that such an act or threat caused death, serious harm, serious risk to public safety or disruption to critical infrastructure.

The Prosecution must prove these elements beyond reasonable doubt.

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Defences For Terrorism

  • Automatism;
  • 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.
  • Many people misunderstand what the limits of Self-defence can be. Most think it is simply outlined in section 418 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), however, there is lawful authority to argue self-defence even in situations where “Pre-Emptive Force” is used.

Penalties For Terrorism

Terrorism offences can be punished up to life imprisonment.


  • Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence (mental illness)
  • Where your conduct was necessary to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)
  • Where someone threatened or coerced you into committing fraud (duress)

Defence Of Human Trafficking Charges

Full time imprisonment is an option open to the Courts, so the charge of Human Trafficking is a serious one. Nott and Co Lawyers will defend your rights if charged. Our experts can negotiate with police, seek to have facts amended, run a dispute facts hearing if required and provide you with a robust defence if you wish to plea not guilty.

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