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Using a Carriage Service to Menace, Harass or Cause Offence

Using a Carriage Service to Menace, Harass or Cause Offence is a crime under Section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 which carries a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison.

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

  1. You used a carriage service, and
  2. You did so in a way that a reasonable person would regard as menacing, harassing or offensive

A ‘carriage service’ is defined as:

‘a service for carrying communications by means of guided and/or unguided electromagnetic energy’ which includes telephone calls, text messages and internet transmissions, such as emails and the use of social media sites.

The use is ‘menacing’ if it includes:

An express or implied threat of detrimental or unpleasant conduct which is likely to cause the other person to act unwillingly.

The use is ‘offensive’ if a reasonable person would regard it as being so.

The matters to be considered when deciding whether the use is offensive include:

  1. the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults
  2. Any literary, artistic or educational merit of the material, and
  3. The general character of the material, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character

The legislation does not define ‘harass’ however, it has been defined:

‘to disturb, bother or pester repeatedly’.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Duress
  2. Necessity, and
  3. Self-defence

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