Carriage Service Offences – The Meaning of Menace, Harass, and Offend
In NSW, the maximum penalty for using a carriage service to harass, menace, or cause offence is three years of imprisonment. If the issue is settled in a local court, the maximum penalty is twelve months imprisonment and/or sixty penalty units.
In NSW, the penalties imposed by the court for using a carriage service to menace, harass, or cause offence are:
- Home detention
- Prison sentence
- Intensive correction order
- Suspended sentence
- Good behaviour bond
- Community service order (CSO)
- Section 10
According to the Criminal Code Act 1995, a person shall be guilty of ‘using a carriage service to menace, harass, or cause offence’ if they use the service in such a way that a reasonable person will regard it as harassing, menacing, or offensive.
The Telecommunications Act 1997 defines the carriage service as any means of sending communications by electromagnetic energy. Most electronic communications come within the purview of this definition. For example, constant emails, phone calls, or messages may be considered as menacing, harassing, or offensive by the recipient. The content of communication is also taken into account to determine whether it is harassing or offensive. Communication containing threats or offensive language may be deemed as menacing, harassing, or offensive.
The police have to prove that you used the carriage service in such a way that any reasonable person will find the content and nature of your messages offensive, harassing, or menacing.
While this is an indictable offence, section 4J of the Crimes Act 1914 clarifies that if both the defence and the prosecution consent, this matter can be dealt with in a local court.
Types of penalties
The penalties for carriage service offences include the following.
This is by far the most serious punishment for this crime. If convicted, you will be detained full time in a correctional centre.
This is the alternative to imprisonment. In effect, you are detained at home rather than in a prison. If you are under home detention, you will be under electronic surveillance.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): Periodic detention has been replaced by Intensive Corrections Order. You will be ordered to comply with several conditions such as not consuming alcohol, attending counselling sessions, receiving treatment, and/or performing community service.
A suspended sentence is a kind of jail sentence which is suspended when you enter into a good behaviour bond. If you obey the terms of the bond, you will not be jailed.
Community Service Order (CSO)
This can be of two types. It may involve unpaid community service at any place specified by probation and parole. Sometimes, the court will ask you to undertake an anger management or similar course. A probation officer will assess you to verify if you are eligible for a community service order.
Good Behaviour Bond
This is a court order that requires the offender to follow good behaviour for some duration. The court will specify the conditions that you have to obey for the duration of the behaviour bond. This bond can be of maximum five years.
The magistrate will assess your financial situation before deciding the amount.
This allows you to avoid a criminal record. The court will record a conviction and impose a penalty when you plead guilty. This will lead to a criminal record. If the court doesn’t convict you, there is no penalty or criminal record.