Using a Carriage Service to Menace or Harass

“Use carriage service to menace” refers to a criminal offense in many jurisdictions including Australia, where a person uses telecommunication services such as emails, text messages, phone calls, or social media platforms to harass, intimidate, or cause offense to another person. It involves the use of guided or unguided electromagnetic energy to transmit the message, and it is considered a serious offense because it can cause significant emotional harm to the victim. This offense is also sometimes referred to as cyberbullying or online harassment.

What is a Carriage Service?

In the context of Australian law, a carriage service is defined as any means of transmitting or receiving communication through guided or unguided electromagnetic energy. This includes services like telephone, internet, radio, television, and any other means of electronic communication.


In addition, electronic communication involves an express or implied threat of detrimental or unpleasant conduct that could coerce the other person to act involuntarily, it is considered “menacing”. The communication is considered “offensive” if a reasonable person would find it so.


When determining whether the communication is offensive, factors such as the accepted standards of morality, decency, and propriety by reasonable adults, the literary, artistic, or educational value of the material, and the general nature of the material, including whether it is medical, legal, or scientific in nature, should be taken into account.


Although the law does not provide a definition for “harass”, it has been interpreted as “to repeatedly disturb, bother, or pester” someone.

What the Prosecution prove against you?

Section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) contains the Commonwealth offense that involves the use of a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense. This offense can be committed by any person and is defined if the following can be shown by the prosecution;


  1. The person uses a carriage service; and
  2. The person does so in a way (whether by the method of use or the content of a communication, or both) that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, menacing, harassing or offensive.

The maximum penalty for this criminal offence is imprisonment for 3 years. If charged with this offence, the legal defences available to you are;


– Duress

– Necessity, and

– Self-defence


If you are found guilty of an offence or plead guilty to this offence, you could potentially face full time custodial sentence. Your case will always start in the Local Court of NSW and it is important to speak to a criminal lawyer before making any decision.

Can you go to Jail for Threatening someone over Texts?

Yes, in Australia, it is a criminal offense to use a carriage service, such as text messages, to menace, harass, or cause offense to another person. This offense is punishable by imprisonment, and the maximum penalty for a conviction is three years imprisonment.


The specific penalties for threatening someone over texts in Australia may vary depending on the circumstances of the case, the nature of the threat, and the jurisdiction in which the offense was committed. 

What can the Police do about Harassing Texts?

If someone is receiving harassing texts in Australia, they can contact the police to report the matter. The police can investigate the complaint and take appropriate action to ensure the safety of the victim. The police may also obtain a court order, such as an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) or Intervention Order, to protect the victim and prevent the offender from contacting them. These orders can impose restrictions on the offender’s behaviour, such as prohibiting them from contacting the victim or going near their home or workplace.


Additionally, the police may work with telecommunication service providers to identify the person and obtain evidence of the harassment, such as the content of the text messages and the sender’s phone number. This information can be used as evidence in court to support the charges against the person.

Examples of Harassing Text Messages

Harassing text messages can take many forms, but they typically involve repeated or unwanted communication that is intended to cause distress, fear, or discomfort to the recipient. Some examples of harassing text messages include:


  • Threats of physical harm or violence, such as “I’m going to hurt you” or “I know where you live.”
  • Insults, name-calling, or other forms of verbal abuse, such as “You’re ugly” or “You’re worthless.”
  • Unwanted sexual advances or explicit messages, such as sending unsolicited nude photos or demanding sexual favours.
  • Stalking or monitoring the recipient’s whereabouts or activities, such as repeatedly asking where they are or who they are with.
  • Bullying or taunting, such as spreading rumours or making fun of the recipient’s appearance or personal life.
  • Demanding money or other resources from the recipient, such as threatening to release embarrassing information unless the recipient pays up.
  • Excessive or unwanted communication, such as sending multiple messages in a row or contacting the recipient at all hours of the day or night.

If you’re facing an offence of using a carriage service to menace harass or offend, it’s important to understand your legal rights and speak to criminal defence lawyers immediately.

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