Cyber and Online Crime

Cyber and online crime is increasingly becoming detected and prosecuted in both the Magistrates’ Court and the County Court. Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, it is an offence to use a carriage service (such as a mobile phone, social media site or other multi-media communication device) to offend, harass, groom a person under 16 or procure a person under 16. These charges are the most common cyber and online crimes prosecuted.

Cyber and Online Crime can also be made up by offences under the State legislation of fraud, theft, stalking, making threats to kill and making threats to commit a sexual assault, all of which can be committed online or using a carriage service.

The Victoria Police have a dedicated E-Crime Unit and Child Exploitation Task Force specialising in offences which occur over the internet, mobile phones and multi-media devices. These offences are taken very seriously by the Court and can result in serious penalties, including imprisonment, and admission to the sex offenders register. They are usually prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Listed below are some commonly prosecuted offences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code:

  • Unauthorised access to, or modification of, restricted data;
  • Unauthorised impairment of electronic communication;
  • Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence; and
  • Using a carriage service to groom or procure a person under 16 years.

In addition, as of 1 July 2015, a new cyber and online offence of threat to commit a sexual offence has come into effect, which is made out if a person makes a threat of rape or sexual assault, the accused intends that the alleged victim believes, or believes that the alleged victim will probably believe, that the accused will carry out the threat. Accordingly, threats made online of this sort will constitute a particular offence. Similarly, threats to disseminate intimate pictures of another person without their consent or the dissemination of this material without the person’s consent is an offence in Victoria punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment.

Please see our ‘Sex Offences’ section for more information.

If you have a search warrant issued upon you, which relates to activities conducted over the internet, or you are contact by police in relation to such allegations, it is in your best interests to get prompt and competent legal advice.