Conveying False Information that a Person or Property is in Danger Offences in NSW

Poppy Morandin.

 

An Illawarra man has taken “chucking a sickie” to another level, after allegedly claiming he had COVID-19 to avoid going to work.

At around 4:15am in the morning, the 23-year-old allegedly sent a text message to his employer which stated that he had contracted COVID-19 and was unable to go to work in Newcastle.

The employer acted swiftly, and the man’s co-workers were stood down to self-isolate whilst awaiting their test results.

Several locations near his workplace were closed, for the purposes of deep cleaning.

Later that day, the man allegedly sent a follow-up text message informing his employer that he had taken a second COVID-19 test, and the result was now negative.

Subsequent inquires allegedly revealed that the man had never received a positive test result.

The matter was then referred to the NSW Police, with officers attached to Wollongong Police District commencing an investigation.

The man then attended Wollongong Police Station, where he was arrested and charged with conveying false information that a person or property is in danger.

He was granted bail to appear at Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday 14 September 2021.

Recently, Newcastle and the Hunter, including Cessnock, Lake Macquarie and Muswellbrook, went back into ‘lockdown’ after cases spiked in the area.

Comparative to Greater Sydney, in which lockdown is scheduled to end August 28, the regional area’s end date is set to be Friday 20 August 2021.

Conveying False Information that a Person or Property is in Danger Offences in NSW

Pursuant to section 93Q of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), it is an offence to convey false information that a person or property is in danger.

To be guilty, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person has conveyed information that he/she knows to be false or misleading, which is likely to make the person to whom the information is conveyed fear for the safety of a person or property.

The information can be conveyed by any means, including the making of a statement, sending or transmitting electronic or other messages or documents.

However, as the offence is classified as a ‘Table 1’ offence, it will be dealt with in the Local Court unless the prosecutor or person charged elects otherwise.

Notably, these types of matters will most likely be dealt with in the Local Court.

The maximum penalty in the Local Court is 2 years imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine.

The offence otherwise carries up to 5-years imprisonment in NSW if dealt with in the District Court.

A similar offence under Commonwealth law is ‘using carriage service for a hoax threat’.

The applicable maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $26,640, pursuant to section 474.16 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

This offence occurs if a person uses a carriage service to communicate with the intention to induce a false belief that an explosive, or a dangerous or harmful substance or thing, has been or will be left in any place.

A carriage service includes services for carrying out communications via ‘guided or unguided electromagnetic energy’ such as by telephone and those related to the internet such as social media messages, iMessage and email.

Did you know? That there are a range of mental health defences available under the law that can result in charges being dismissed.

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