Criminal Threats to Kill or Inflict Serious Injury Main Reason for Breach of CCOs

by Doogue + George Criminal Defence Lawyers

Criminal Threats to Kill or Inflict Serious Injury Main Reason for Breach of CCOs

A new report by the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council indicates that “threats to kill” and “threats to inflict serious injury” are the most common offences resulting in a breach of a community correction orders (CCOs) in Victoria.

CCOs require offenders to follow strict conditions or risk being returned to prison. A mandatory condition is that the offender not commit an offence whilst subject to the order. A breach of a CCO will constitute a separate charge in itself leading to a further sentence being imposed.

It is imperative that offenders subject to CCOs follow their order conditions strictly and ensure they take active steps to avoid getting in trouble with the law.

What Constitutes a Criminal Threat to kill or threat to inflict serious injury?

A death threat is an offence under s20 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and threatening to commit serious injury is an offence under s21 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

The elements of a criminal threat are as follows:

  1. “A” (the Defendant) makes a threat to “B” (the Victim) to either kill (a “death threat”) or seriously injure “B” or another person.
  2. “A” intends “B” to fear that the threat would be carried out or was reckless as to whether or not “B” would fear that the threat would be carried out.
  3. The threat was made without lawful excuse.

A criminal threat doesn’t require you to directly threaten to harm “B”, only that you have threatened to kill or seriously injure someone in order to put fear in “B”.

It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that “B” was actually afraid, only that you intended or were reckless as to whether “B” would fear the death threat or other threat (R v Alexander [2007] VSCA 178).

What Defences Are Available?

Formal defences to a criminal threat charge include that the threat was made in self-defence, to prevent a crime or to protect others.

In the UK case of R v Cousins [1982] 1 QB 526, the defendant thought that there was a contract out on his life and so threatened the father of the man he thought issued the contract with a shotgun. The Court found in this case that although a threat to kill could be justified if done in self-defence, the actions of the defendant in that case were not reasonable and therefore not justified.

For a threat to kill or seriously injury to be reasonable, the danger apprehended must be sufficiently specific or imminent to justify the threat and the danger must be of the kind where the defendant could not respond in a more peaceful manner.


If you have been charged with making criminal threats or you are accused of breaching your CCO, Doogue + George lawyers can help.

Our specialist criminal defence lawyers are able to inform you whether the prosecution can make its case or whether a formal defence applies. Please get in touch.


We welcome your feedback

Hi there! We want to make this site as good as it can for you, the user. Please tell us what you would like to do differently and we will do our best to accommodate!

Protected by FormShield

We've updated our Privacy Statement, before you continue. please read our new Privacy Statement and familiarise yourself with the terms.