What is the charge of Threats?

It is a criminal offence in Queensland to threaten another person.  A threat is any communication indicating an intention to do harm. A threat can be communicated directly or indirectly. It can be delivered through words- written or spoken, or by conduct. 

An example of a threat is writing an email to someone telling them that you are going to blow up a building, or yelling at someone that you are going to kill them.  The threat must be communicated to the person, and the person must both objectively and subjectively believe that the act is going to be, or capable of being carried out.  The threat must include a detriment or a consequence of the person’s action.   

For a threat to occur, there must be an intention to cause harm. There is a difference between someone who is merely “sounding off” and someone who has the intention to create any fear. 

The Law:- 

Section 359 of the Criminal Code (Qld) 1899 states; 

  • A person (the “first person”) who threatens to cause a detriment to a second person with the intent to prevent or hinder any person (the”other person” ) other than the first person from doing any act which the other person is lawfully entitled to do, or with intent to compel the other person to do any act which the other person is lawfully entitled to abstain from doing, or with intent to cause public alarm or anxiety, commits a crime. 
  • The offender is liable to a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment if the threat is made to a law enforcement officer, or a person helping a law enforcement officer, when or because the officer is investigating the activities of a criminal organisation.

Elements of the offence

It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant has committed the offence.  Every charge has a number of elements that the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  For the charge of Threats the Prosecution must prove the;

  1. Defendant: The Prosecutor has to prove the identification of the offender; 
  2. Threat to Cause Detriment of Any Kind– The Prosecutor must prove that a threat of any kind was made.
  3. With Intent- The Prosecutor must prove that the threat was made with the intent to; 
  • Prevent or hinder any person from doing an act that the other person is lawfully entitled to do, or; 
  • Compel any person to do any act which the other person is lawfully entitled to abstain from doing, or; 
  • Cause public alarm or anxiety.  

Maximum Penalty for Threats:

The maximum penalty for Threats is 5 years imprisonment.  

The maximum penalty increases to 10 years imprisonment if the threat is made to a law enforcement officer or a person helping a law enforcement officer when or because the officer is investigating the activities of criminal misconduct. 


In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Threats, then the court could impose one of the following penalties: 

  • Jail (suspended, parole or actual time); 
  • Intensive Corrections Order
  • Probation
  • Community Service Order
  • Fines

The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.

Possible Defences:

There are a number of defences available to charge at law.  Not every defence is available to every charge.  You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge. Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;
  • Necessity;
  • Mistake of Fact;
  • Public Safety;
  • Self Defence or defence of
  • another person;
  • Intoxication;
  • Provocation;
  • Accident;
  • Duress;
  • Compulsion;
  • Insanity;
  • Automatism

Which Court will your matter be heard in?

This matter is indictable.  

The charge of kidnapping will be initially heard in the Magistrates Court, however, it is too serious to be finalised by a Magistrate.  In that event, a committal hearing will have to be conducted and then the matter will proceed to the District Court.  If you enter a plea of guilty then the charge will be determined by a Judge.  If you enter a plea of Not Guilty, then the trial will be before a Judge and Jury.  If you are found guilty then you will be sentenced by the Judge.  

What should I do if the police want to speak to me about a Threats allegation or if I am charged with Threats?

You have the right to remain silent. You DO have to provide police with your name, date of birth and contact details. You should NOT answer any questions, make any statement or participate in any interview with the police. You should be polite to the officer but insist that you want to talk to your lawyer. You have the right to telephone a friend, relative or lawyer. 

Call an Expert

If you are charged with a criminal offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over-the-phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert Criminal Lawyers and can represent you in court.  

Call us on 1300 066 669 if you have any questions. We can assist you no matter where you are located and can appear in every court.