Section 32 Crimes Act 1900 | Impeding Endeavours to Escape Shipwreck


There has been an increased focus on the law relating to shipping disasters and shipwrecks following the recent tragedies involving the Costa Concordia and the sinking of the MV Sewol.

In New South Wales, section 32 of the Crimes Act creates a criminal offence where you intentionally or recklessly prevent or hinder another person from escaping a shipwreck or a vessel in distress.

Examples of conduct which may result in charges under this section include where you give orders for passengers to remain on board a sinking ship when it is obvious that they could potentially face injury or death by doing so, or preventing a person from leaving a sinking ship.

You could also face charges under this section where you intentionally or recklessly prevent another person from attempting to save the life of another person in these situations.

Because of the serious consequences that can result from attempts to impede others from escaping a shipwreck, the law imposes a heavy maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment in these situations.

However, it is important to remember that this is a maximum penalty; so it will only be reserved for the most serious cases.

The Legislation

Section 32 of the Crimes Act 1900 deals with the offence of ‘impeding endeavours to escape shipwreck’ and reads as follows:

32 Impeding endeavours to escape shipwreck


intentionally or recklessly prevents or impedes any person on board of, or having quitted, any ship or vessel in distress, or wrecked, stranded, or cast on shore, in his or her endeavour to save his or her life, or

intentionally or recklessly prevents or impedes any person in his or her endeavour to save the life of such first-mentioned person,

shall be liable to imprisonment for 25 years.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we specialise exclusively in criminal law. This means that unlike other “general” law firms, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to secure the best possible outcome in your matter.

Our criminal lawyers can work with you or your loved ones when it comes to fighting these types of charges to escape the serious penalties under the law.

We have a wealth of experience defending some of the most serious criminal matters, and can assist you in understanding the charges and the steps that you can take to secure a positive outcome.

Often, we are able to have charges dropped at an early stage by raising problems with the prosecution case before the matter reaches court – sparing our clients the time and expense of a lengthy criminal trial.

Where you require representation in court, you can count on our highly experienced Accredited Criminal Law Specialists to put forth your case in the most positive light to maximise your chances of being found “not guilty.”

We guarantee that you will only be represented by one of our senior lawyers – exceptional advocates who have proven experience in fighting and winning serious criminal cases.

Our expert defence team would also be happy to assist if you simply wish to plead guilty and proceed straight to sentencing.

In these cases, we will work hard to put forth your case in the most positive light – for example, by showing evidence of your good character and lack of a previous criminal record.

For the best result in your criminal case, trust the experts at Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 to book a FREE first appointment to discuss your case.