Criminal Lawyers for Terrorism Offences – Division 101 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995


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Being charged with a terrorism offence can turn your world upside down, attracting unwanted media attention and prejudice which may negatively impact your future.

However, the expert team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers has the knowledge and skills to help you overcome terrorism accusations – leaving you free to get on with your life.

The law contains several provisions in relation to terrorism under the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

These include:

  • Engaging in terrorism
  • Providing or receiving training in relation to terrorism
  • Possessing things connected with terrorism acts
  • Planning or preparing terrorist acts
  • Being a member of a terrorist organisation
  • Financing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

Being charged with a terrorist offence can have serious consequences, so it’s important to ensure that you get the best lawyers on your side to fight for your rights.

Engaging in a terrorist act – 101.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

It can be particularly confronting being charged with a terrorism offence, especially when you know that you are innocent.

However, there are several ways that you can fight the charge in court – for example, by arguing that the ‘elements’ of a terrorist act have not been made out.

In order to be found guilty of engaging in a terrorist act, the prosecution must prove that you:

1. Acted, or threatened some action to advance a political, religious or ideological cause
2. Acted or made the threat to influence the government or intimidate the public
3. The action:

  • Caused serious physical harm to another person
  • Caused serious damage to property
  • Caused someone’s death
  • Posed a risk to the health or safety of the public
  • Interfered with or destroyed an information, telecommunication, financial, banking, government, public utility or transport system.

These three factors are called the ‘elements’ of the offence.

If you feel that the elements of the offence cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you can plead ‘not guilty’ and fight the matter in court. This will allow you to provide evidence in court to prove that you are innocent.

Alternatively, you can raise a defence to show that you had a good reason for your actions, for example:

  • Where you did the terrorist act because you were forced or threatened (duress)
  • Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence

Pleading Guilty

If you wish to admit to the charges, you can enter a plea of guilty.

In some cases, entering a plea of guilty can be beneficial, as it may enable you to receive a discount on your sentence. In other words, by pleading guilty early on, you may receive a lighter penalty than you would if you were found guilty after a trial.

If you are considering entering a plea of guilty, you may be wondering what kinds of penalties you could face.

The maximum penalty for engaging in a terrorist act is life imprisonment.

However, this is a maximum penalty only and it will only apply to the most serious offences.

In determining the appropriate penalty in your case, the court will take all of the facts and circumstances of your case into account, such as your criminal record and your chances of reoffending.

Providing or receiving training connected with terrorism acts – 101.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Being accused of providing or receiving training in connection with terrorism acts can profoundly affect your life and future. However, if you believe that you are innocent, you can fight the charges by pleading ‘not guilty’ in court.

One way to fight the charges is to argue that the elements of the offence have not been made out. In order to be found ‘guilty’ of providing or receiving training in connection with terrorism, the prosecution must prove that you:

  • Provided or received training
  • In preparation for, or to assist a terrorism act
  • Knew, or were reckless as to whether the training was in relation to a terrorism act

If you feel that the prosecution will not be able to prove these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you can elect to enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and fight the charges in court. This will allow you to raise any evidence to prove your innocence to the court.

You may also wish to raise a defence in court, for example:

  • Where you did the terrorist act because you were forced or threatened (duress)
  • Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence

Pleading Guilty

If you decide to admit to the charges against you, you may decide to plead guilty. Pleading guilty may result in a more favourable outcome for you, because the court will generally award you a discount on your sentence for showing that you are remorseful and accept responsibility for your actions.

If you’re thinking about pleading guilty to the charges, you may be wondering what penalties you could face and how a terrorism charge could affect your life.

The maximum penalty for providing or receiving training in connection with terrorism offences depends on whether or not you actually knew that the training was in relation to a terrorism act.

  • Where it is proved that you knew the training was in relation to a terrorism act, you will face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
  • Where you were reckless as to whether the training was in relation to a terrorism act, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.

While these penalties may seem harsh, they will only apply in the most serious cases. The court determines the appropriate penalty on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all the facts and circumstances of your case. Often, you will receive a much lesser penalty than the maximum.

Possessing things connected with terrorism acts – 101.4 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Being accused of possessing things connected with terrorism acts can be a confronting and stressful experience.

But with the right legal advice and assistance, you can fight the terrorism charges to prove your innocence.

To be found guilty of ‘possessing things connected with terrorism acts,’ the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You possessed something in connection with the preparation for, or assistance with a terrorism act and
  • You knew, or were reckless as to whether the thing was connected with a terrorist act.

If you feel that the prosecution will be unable to prove these two elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you can enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and ask your lawyer to fight the charges in court. By entering a plea of not guilty, you will be given the opportunity to tell your side of the story in court.

If you decide to plead ‘not guilty,’ you will also have the opportunity to raise a defence to justify or explain your actions, for example:

  • Where you did the terrorist act because you were forced or threatened (duress)
  • Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence

Pleading Guilty

If you wish to accept full responsibility for the charges against you, you may enter a plea of ‘guilty’.

By entering a plea of guilty early on in the proceedings, you may obtain a more favourable outcome in your terrorism case. This is because the court will usually award you a ‘discount’ on your sentence for showing remorse for your actions.

If you’re considering pleading guilty to the charges, it’s only natural that you will want to know what type of penalty you may receive.

The maximum penalty for possessing things in connection with terrorism offences depends on whether or not you actually knew that the things were connected with terrorism.

  • Where you knew that the thing was intended to be used in connection with committing a terrorism offence, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.
  • Where you were reckless as to whether the thing was intended to be used in connection with committing a terrorism offence, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.

However, these are maximum penalties only and apply only to the most serious offences.

The court will determine the appropriate penalty in your case after considering all the facts and circumstances – for example, whether or not you have a criminal record and whether there is a likelihood of you reoffending.

Often, the penalty that you receive will be much less than the maximum.

Acts done in preparation for, or planning terrorist acts – 101.6 of theCommonwealth Criminal Code

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Being charged with planning or preparing a terrorist act can leave you feeling lost and alone. But with the help of experienced criminal lawyers, you can fight the charges by pleading ‘not guilty.’

Before you are found guilty of doing an act in preparation for, or planning terrorist acts, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Did some act in preparation for, or planned a terrorist act.

The kinds of acts that could be considered to be ‘acts done in preparation or planning a terrorist attack’ include:

  • Enquiring about chemicals and possessing instructions on how to make bombs
  • Attempting to make explosives and collecting ammunition
  • Possessing ammunition and laboratory equipment

If you feel that the prosecution will not be able to prove that your actions were done in preparation or planning for a terrorist attack, you can enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and fight the charges in court. This means that you will be able to share your side of the story in court to prove your innocence.

If you feel that you have some reason to explain or justify your actions, you will also be able to raise it after pleading ‘not guilty.’ For example, you may argue that you were suffering from a mental illness at the time that you committed the offence, or you were doing it under threat. For example, you could raise a defence:

  • Where you did the terrorist act because you were forced or threatened (duress)
  • Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence

Pleading Guilty

If you accept the charges against you, you may wish to plead guilty to the offence. By doing so, you will be accepting responsibility for your actions.

In some circumstances, entering a plea of guilty at the first opportunity may be in your best interests. This is because the court can award you a discount on your sentence. In other words, the court will recognise the fact that you are sorry for your actions, and will impose a more lenient penalty.

If you are considering pleading guilty to ‘planning or preparing a terrorist act,’ you may be wondering what kinds of penalties you could be facing.

The law states that the maximum penalty for planning or preparing a terrorist attack is life imprisonment.

However, life imprisonment will only be imposed in the most serious cases – generally, the penalty that you will receive will be much lower than this, as the courts will take into account all the facts and circumstances in your case.

Statistics show that the lowest penalty for planning or preparing a terrorist attack was 14 years imprisonment, while the highest penalty was 28 years.

Being a member of a terrorist organization – 102.3 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Being accused of being a member of a terrorist organisation can be deeply upsetting for you and your loved ones. But if you believe that you are innocent, you can fight the charges by entering a plea of not guilty.

Before you can be found guilty of being a member of a terrorist organisation, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Were either an informal member, or had taken steps to become a member of
  • An organisation declared to be a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Governor-General, or an organisation that either directly or indirectly engaged in the planning and preparation of a terrorist attack, or assisted or fostered a terrorist attack.

If you believe that the prosecution will not be able to prove these two factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you may enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ to fight the charges in court.

If you wish to plead ‘not guilty,’ you may also be able to raise a defence to show that you had a reasonable excuse for being the member of a terrorist organisation. For example, you could argue that:

  • You took all reasonable steps to stop association with the organisation once you realised that it was a terrorist organisation.
  • You were suffering from a mental illness at the time of your membership
  • You were threatened or coerced into becoming a member (duress)

Pleading Guilty

Alternatively, you may wish to accept the charges against you. In this case, you may enter a plea of ‘guilty’ to the charges. You will then proceed straight to sentencing, which is where the judge determines the type of penalty that you will receive.

If you choose to plead guilty from the outset, you may end up with a better outcome – this is because the court can give you a lesser penalty for showing that you are sorry for your actions.

If you’re considering pleading guilty to being a member of a terrorist organisation, you may be wondering what the penalties are.

The maximum penalty for being a member of a terrorist organisation is 10 years imprisonment.

However, this penalty will only apply in the most serious cases – in most cases a much lesser penalty will apply after the court has taken into account all the facts and circumstances of your case.

Recruiting members of a terrorist organisation – 102.6 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Being charged with recruiting members for a terrorist organisation can damage your reputation and negatively impact your life. However, you can prove your innocence by entering a plea of ‘not guilty’ and fighting the charges.

To be found guilty of recruiting members for a terrorist organisation, the prosecution must prove that you:

  • Induced, incited or encouraged someone to join or participate in
  • The activities of a terrorist organisation

If the prosecution is unable to prove these two elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found ‘not guilty’ of recruiting members of a terrorist organisation.

Alternatively, you may wish to go to court to explain your actions. For example, you may wish to raise a defence that you were forced into recruiting members, or that you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence. For example, you may argue that:

  • You were forced or threatened into recruiting members (duress);
  • You were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offence

Pleading Guilty

If you wish to accept the allegations against you, you may enter a plea of ‘guilty.’ You will then proceed straight to sentencing to have the penalty determined.

In some cases, it may actually be beneficial for you to plead guilty as soon as possible. This is because the court can award you a more favourable sentence for pleading guilty, because it shows to the court that you are sorry for your actions.

If you’re thinking about pleading guilty, you may be wondering what kinds of penalties you could face.

Under the law, the maximum penalty depends on whether or not you knew that the organisation was a terrorist organisation.

  • Where you knew that the organisation for which you were recruiting was a terrorist organisation, the maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment.
  • Where you were reckless as to whether the organisation was a terrorist organisation, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.

However, these are maximum penalties only, meaning that they are reserved for only the most serious offences. In most cases, you will get a lesser penalty.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being charged with a terrorism offence can have serious implications on your life, jeopardising your rights to a fair trial, privacy and justice.

Terrorism cases are notoriously complex and further, they can be difficult to defend because of the vast resources available to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Australian Federal Police. The complexity of these cases therefore demands the expertise of a specialist lawyer with a thorough understanding of Commonwealth terrorism laws.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers specialises in defending serious terrorism cases. Our specialist lawyers are experts in the special laws of evidence in terrorism cases and dedicate the time and effort in each and every case to navigate all the evidence and raise issues with the prosecution case.

Being charged with a terrorism offence can negatively impact your human rights and your right to justice. But you can rest assured that our skilled advocates will fight hard to defend your rights in court and ensure that your human rights are protected.

Our senior criminal lawyers have years of experience appearing in the Federal Court in relation to terrorism offences and are highly respected by members of the judiciary.

So call the experts now on (02) 9261 8881 and let us help you win your terrorism case.

What Does the Law Say About Terrorism Offences?

Commonwealth terrorism laws frequently make reference to ‘terrorist acts’ and ‘terrorist organisations.’ If you’ve been charged with a terrorism offence, it can be helpful to know what these phrases mean.

What is a terrorist act?

A ‘terrorist act’ refers broadly to actions or threats made to advance a political, religious or ideological cause, which are done to influence or intimidate the government or members of the public.

A terrorist act must be seen to either:

  • Result in serious harm to another person or property;
  • Result in the death of another person;
  • Result in harm or damage to property;
  • Endanger the health of members of the public
  • Interfere with or disrupt “electronic systems,” including telecommunication systems, banking systems, government systems, information systems and transport systems.

What is a terrorist organization?

A ‘terrorist organisation’ refers to some kind of organisation that directly or indirectly plans, prepares, fosters or assists in a terrorist act.

A terrorist organisation can also refer to an organisation deemed to be a terrorist organisation by the Governor-General. These organisations must fit the description above, or alternatively, they must be seen to advocate or support acts of terrorism.

You cannot be charged with a terrorism offence where it is shown that you took all reasonable steps to end your membership with the terrorist organization after finding out about it.

However, an organisation may still be deemed to be a ‘terrorist organisation’ even where no acts of terrorism eventuate.

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