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Is it a crime to send abusive or threatening messages to someone in NSW?

Sending threatening messages: The Legal Landscape in NSW

In today’s digital age, communication has taken on a whole new dimension. The convenience of instant messaging and social media platforms has brought people closer, but it has also given rise to a new set of challenges, especially in the context of the law. If you find yourself facing the prospect of or have been charged with sending abusive or threatening messages in New South Wales, this blog is for you.

The power of words should never be underestimated, especially when they are intended to harm or threaten others. In New South Wales, sending abusive or threatening messages can have serious legal consequences. This article will explore the legal aspects of such actions in NSW, potential defences against police charges, and how Repute Law, with its team of experienced senior criminal defence lawyers, is uniquely positioned to guide you through these complex matters.

The Legal Landscape in NSW

Sending abusive or threatening messages is a criminal offence in New South Wales. The primary legislation that addresses this issue is the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), specifically section 13. This section defines stalking and intimidation, which can also encompass threats and intimidation through words. If your messages are deemed abusive or threatening and the recipient fears that they might be carried out, you could be charged with a criminal offence and would risk facing the courts and as such penalties that could follow if convicted.

Furthermore, under commonwealth legislation, S474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) explicitly sets out that it is an offence to use a carriage service to threaten and harass someone and such holds a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment.

The consequences of such charges can be severe. A conviction can lead to penalties such as fines, community service, probation, or even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence. Additionally, having a criminal record can have long-lasting implications on your personal and professional life, including difficulty finding employment, obtaining visas, or securing loans.

If you find yourself charged with sending abusive or threatening messages, you may have certain legal defences at your disposal. It is crucial to consult with experienced criminal lawyers, like those at Repute Law, who can provide you with expert guidance on your specific case. Some potential defences that may be applicable include:

  1. Mistaken Identity: You may not be the actual sender of the messages, and someone else may have used your device or identity to send them. In such cases, establishing your lack of involvement is crucial.
  2. No Intent: To be convicted under the law, the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to threaten or harm. If it can be established that your messages were misconstrued or taken out of context, this may serve as a valid defence.
  3. Self-Defence: If you can demonstrate that your messages were sent as a reasonable response to threats or harassment from the recipient, it may be considered a legitimate act of self-defence.

It is important to remember that every case is unique, and the success of these defences may vary. Seeking the expertise of experienced senior criminal defence lawyers at Repute Law can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system effectively.

It has been held that for a message to be considered threatening or abusive, it must create a fear of violence in the recipient. Emphasising the importance of assessing the recipient’s perspective when determining whether the messages in question constitute an offence. Our senior criminal defence lawyers at Repute Law are well-versed in these nuances of the law and can provide you with the best possible defence strategies based on the specific circumstances of your case.

At Repute Law, we take pride in being one of the only law firms in Australia composed entirely of senior criminal defence lawyers with no junior lawyers. This means that when you engage with us, you get direct access to a legal expert with vast experience in criminal law. Our lawyers are not learning on the job; they are seasoned professionals who understand the intricacies of the legal system.

Additionally, we have a team of legal Case Concierges® who are also lawyers and can provide you with valuable advice on the best course of action for your criminal law case. We recognise that every case is unique, and our experts tailor their strategies to your specific needs. Our focus is always on achieving the best possible outcome for you.


In the age of digital communication, sending abusive or threatening messages can lead to serious legal consequences in New South Wales. The potential charges and their associated penalties make it crucial to have the right legal representation by your side.

Repute Law, with its team of senior lawyers and legal Case Concierges, is uniquely positioned to provide you with expert guidance, ensuring that your case is handled with the utmost professionalism and care. We understand the complexities of the law and the importance of mounting a strong defence or exploring other legal options.

If you are facing charges related to sending abusive or threatening messages in NSW, we urge you to contact Repute Law as soon as possible. Our highly skilled legal experts are ready to assist you in navigating the legal process, protecting your rights, and working towards the best possible outcome for your case. Your future and reputation are at stake, and we are here to help you every step of the way. Don’t delay; contact Repute Law today to get started on resolving your legal issues.

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