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Recklessly Making a False Statement about the Contamination of Goods

Recklessly making a false statement about the contamination of goods is an offence under section 380.4(1A) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You made a statement
  2. You knew the statement was false
  3. You did so intending to induce the person to whom the statement was made or others to believe goods had been contaminated, and
  4. You were reckless as to whether your statement would cause:
  1. Public alarm or anxiety in Australia
  2. Widespread or nationally significant economic loss in Australia through public awareness of the actual or possible contamination, or
  3. Harm or risk of harm to public health in Australia.

‘Goods’ include any substance:

  1. Whether or not for human consumption
  2. Whether natural or manufactured, and
  3. Whether or not incorporated or mixed with other goods.

To ‘contaminate’ goods includes:

  1. To interfere with goods, and
  2. To make it appear that goods have been contaminated or interfered with.

‘Economic loss’ includes monetary loss caused through:

  1. Members of the public not purchasing or using those goods or similar things, and
  2. Steps taken to avoid public alarm or anxiety or to avoid harm to members of the public.

You were ‘reckless’ if you were aware there was a substantial risk that your conduct would cause public alarm or anxiety, economic harm or harm or risk thereof to public health, and it was unjustifiable to take that risk in the circumstances but you went ahead with your actions regardless.

Duress and necessity are defences to the charge.

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