In Australia, most offences prosecuted by the states, however in some limited circumstances the Commonwealth has the power to create laws in relation to criminal activity.

Most of these offences are captured under the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). Broadly speaking there are many different categories of offences captured under the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) such as:

  • Commonwealth Sexual Offences
  • Menace, harass & offend
  • Drug Importation
  • Tax Fraud

Commonwealth Sexual Offences

Most offences in this area of law are regulated by the states (such as NSW), however as these offences involve the ‘use of a carriage service’ the Commonwealth has the power to prosecute matters of this nature.

Use Carriage Service to access etc. Child pornography material
Pursuant to Section 474.19 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth where a person uses a carriage service to access, transmit, distribute, publish, promote or solicit child pornography material. The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

Use Carriage service for child abuse material
Pursuant to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth for a person to use a carriage service to access, transmit, publishes, distributes, advertises or promotes child abuse material. The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

Possess, control, supply or obtain child abuse material through carriage service
Pursuant to Section 474.23 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth where a person uses a carriage service to possess, control, produce, supply or obtain child abuse material. The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

Use Carriage Service for Sexual activity with a child under 16
Pursuant to section 474.25A of the Criminal code act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth for a person to engage in sexual activity with a child or to cause a child to engage in sexual activity with another person. The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

Use Carriage Service to procure/groom a child under 16
Pursuant to sections 474.26 (procure) & 474.27 (groom) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth where a person uses a carriage service to procure the recipient to engage in sexual activity with that recipient being or the sender believing the recipient to be under 16 years of age. This offence also requires that the offender be over the age of 18 at the time of the messages. The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

Use Carriage Service to transmit indecent communication to child under 16
Pursuant to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth for a person to use a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person under 16 years of age. The question of what constitutes indecent is to be decided as to the standards of ordinary people. The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

Using carriage service to threaten, harass or offend.

Using carriage service to threaten to kill/cause serious harm
Pursuant to section 474.15 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the commonwealth for a person to use a carriage service to make a threat to kill or cause serious harm. The maximum penalty for making a threat to kill is 10 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for making a threat to cause serious harm is 7 years imprisonment.

Use carriage service to Menace, Harass or cause offence
Pursuant to section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence against the Commonwealth for a person to use a carriage service to Menace, Harass or cause offence. This offence is often used alongside or instead of offences related to stalking/intimidation where that conduct is alleged to have occurred by a phone. The maximum penalty for this offence is three years imprisonment.

Pursuant to section 474.17A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) the offence of use carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence is aggravated if the material which is used to menace, harass or offend is private sexual material. The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

Drug Importation

Drug Importation – Commercial Quantity
Pursuant to section 307.1. of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to import or export a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. Border controlled drugs include (but are not limited to) cocaine, MDMA, heroine and cannabis leaf. Each have a different prescribed ‘commercial quantity’. The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.

Drug Importation – Marketable Quantity
Pursuant to section 307.2. of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to import or export a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug. Border controlled drugs include (but are not limited to) cocaine, MDMA, heroine and cannabis leaf. Each have a different prescribed ‘marketable quantity’. The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment.

Drug Importation – Less than marketable quantity
Pursuant to section 307.3. of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to import or export a border-controlled drug. Border controlled drugs include (but are not limited to) cocaine, MDMA, heroine and cannabis leaf. Each have a different prescribed ‘marketable quantity’. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

Tax Fraud

Dishonestly obtaining Commonwealth property by deception
Pursuant to section 134.1. of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to dishonestly obtain Commonwealth property by deception. This offence is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Obtaining a financial advantage from the Commonwealth by deception
Pursuant to section 134.2. of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to obtain a financial advantage from the Commonwealth by deception. This offence is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth
Pursuant to section 135.4. of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to dishonestly cause a loss to the Commonwealth. This offence is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

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