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

Being charged with a terrorism offence can turn your life upside down, attracting unwanted media attention and prejudice which may negatively impact your ability to obtain a fair trial.

However, the expert team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers® has the knowledge and skill 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 court in court.

In certain situations, you may be able to raise a defence showing that your conduct was legally justified, 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.

The types of penalties that you face include:

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 types of penalties that you face include:

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 types of penalties that you face include:

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 reoffending.

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 false allegations 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.

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 types of penalties that you face include:

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 types of penalties that you face include:

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 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.

The types of penalties that you face include:

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.

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 organisation?

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.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.

Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results – Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction – We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm – We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
  4. Fixed Fees – We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
  5. Free First Appointment – For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee – We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
  7. All NSW Courts – From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
  8. Accredited Specialists – Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
  9. Results-Focused Law Firm – Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You – Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges – Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
  12. Convenience – We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
    • Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
    • Parramatta, near the justice precinct.

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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