Criminal Offences

Threatening Letters

In NSW, documents containing threats is perceived as a serious criminal offence. In fact, section 31 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW] states that:

  1. Any person who intentionally or recklessly, and knowing its contents, send or delivers, or directly or indirectly causes to be received, any document threatening to kill or inflict bodily harm on any person is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
  2. It is immaterial for the purposes of an offence under this section whether or not a document sent or delivered is actually received, and whether or not the threat contained in a document sent, delivered or received is actually communicated to the person concerned or to the recipient or intended recipient of the document (as relevant in the circumstances).

By this definition, an individual can be found guilty of the crime if they have crafted documents which depict any form of bodily harm, regardless whether they have been sent, delivered or received. An individual can also be charged in circumstances where they are indirectly involved in a person receiving such a letter, regardless if they were responsible for creating the document in the first place.

As a leading criminal defence law firm based in Sydney, our expert team of criminal lawyers possess a wealth of knowledge in relation to the crime of threatening letters.

If you or somebody you know is facing such charges, contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders now for confidential consultation.


As seen in section 31 of the Crimes Act 1900, creating and sending threatening letters is seen a serious crime with potentially significant penalties. If found guilty, an individual could be facing a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

However, in the judiciary system has the ability to enforce alternative penalties in appropriate circumstances. The Court will consider the seriousness of the offence and deliberate on the defendant’s character, past criminal history, and personal circumstances in order to determine whether an alternative, a generally more liberating sentence is sufficient punishment.

Upon consideration of these factors, the Court could impose a lesser gaol term, which is an ideal outcome for serious offences. The Court also has the ability to enforce other forms of custodial penalties such as home detention, whereby an individual is subject to electronic monitoring and strict supervision or intensive correction orders which are a form of periodic detention. Other penalties that could be enforced for the the crime of threatening letters includes community corrections orders, conditional release orders, fines or deal with the matter by the means of a section 10 dismissal.

For more accurate advice in relation to the penalties that relate to your specific case should you be facing charges of threatening letters, contact our expert criminal defence lawyers for a first consultation.


In order to be found guilty of the crime of threatening letters, it is up to the prosecution to prove all the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you knew you the contents of the document, and
  • The you recklessly or intentionally sent or delivered, whether directly or indirectly, a document, and
  • The document that you sent or delivered containing threatening content that depicted death or bodily harm.

If you agree with these allegations and the prosecution are able to prove these elements, it may be ideal to plead guilty to the charge. If you choose to do so, the matter will proceed to sentencing, in which you will be facing a maximum conviction of 10 years imprisonment.

Although it is true that you could be facing a substantial gaol term, a guilty plea is often favoured in the Court as it demonstrates remorse for the unlawful activities you participated in. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see those who plead guilty receive a less significant penalty. Whether the Court decides to reduce the gaol term, or impose penalties such as community correction orders (CCOs) or fines, these outcomes are generally much more favourable and liberating as opposed to being found guilty otherwise. Our Sydney based criminal defence lawyers may also be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecution team, given you enter a guilty plea.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we work closely with all the clients we represent and provide honest advice if it is in your best interest to plead guilty or not guilty.

If you are facing charges relating to threatening letters call our criminal defence law firm now to schedule a first consultation where we can provide tailored advice in relation to your specific matter.


You also have the option to plead not guilty, should you wish. In this instance, the matter will proceed to a hearing, in which evidence will be given by the prosecution team in order to prove their allegations against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Prior to this event taking place, the evidence will be provided to our criminal defence lawyers, in which our team with thoroughly analyse and examine. After examination of the evidence, we will advise you in relation to the strength of your case and the penalties that could be inflicted if found guilty during your hearing.

By consistently examining the evidence against you, our criminal lawyers will have a comprehensive understanding on how the prosecution will try and convict you of the crime. With this information, we will apply appropriate defence strategies and cross examine the evidence provided in order to cast doubt over the prosecutions claims. If we are successfully able to raise doubt in relation to the evidence provided, you will not be found guilty of the charge. It is important to understand that some defence strategies may not provide a complete defence, in which you could be found guilty of an alternative crime. However, if this happens, the charges are typically downgraded to one that has less significant penalties, which is a more positive outcome than the maximum penalty of a 10 year gaol term for the crime of threatening letters.


There are many defence strategies that may be used to dismiss allegations of threatening letters. Our expert criminal defence lawyers may use the following to negate such claims:

Duress: Involves the use of harmful threats such as grievous bodily harm or death in order to coerce the defendant to participate in the unlawful activity. For example, in the case of threatening letters, the accused may have been coerced by an unjust aggressor to send a threatening letter on their behalf.

Self-Defence: Our criminal lawyers may be able to raise self defence if it can be proven that actions were taken in order to defend confrontations by an aggressor. Self defence occurs in circumstances in which the accused aims to protect property, themselves or another person.


The crime of threatening letters is classified as a table 1 offence in NSW letters. This means that the matter typically be heard at the Local Courts. However, an election can be made by either yourself or the prosecution, in which the matter will be finalised at the District Court.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are highly experienced in representing clients at Local, District and Supreme Courts in NSW. Should you be charged with the crime of threatening letters as per section 81 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), you can be confident that our criminal defence lawyers are dedicated to achieve the best possible outcome for your case, regardless of which Court the matter is heard at.

For a confidential consultation for more accurate advice pertaining to your matter, please contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders now!