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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Arson Offences Arson Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

Arson Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

An offence that damages other people’s properties is a strict crime in the Northern Territory. Such crimes have severe penalties and punishments.

If you are convicted of an Arson offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Arson Offences

Arson offences are not limited to damaging other people's properties but include using explosives and fire. The offender can use fire and explosives to damage crops, conveyance and buildings.

Threatening someone to use fire or explosives to damage their properties also comes under the category of arson offences. Threatening can be used not only for buildings but conveyance too.

What does NT Law say about Arson Offences?

Section 243, 244, and 245 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) covers Arson offences in the Northern Territory.

Damaging properties using explosives

If a person causes damages to property, conveyance or building using explosives and fire, they are guilty of the crime or Arson.

Fault Elements

The fault elements regarding provision 1 of Section 243 of the Act are the following,

  1. The person has intentionally used explosive or fire substances
  2. The person is recklessly causing or has caused damage to conveyance or building.


The penalty for such offence in provision 1 of Section 243 is up to life imprisonment.

Being guilty of an attempted offence

If the legal authority convicts a person of attempting an Arson offence mentioned in subsection (1), they will be guilty of the crime, and the penalty will not exceed 14 years of imprisonment.

Threatening someone

Provision 3 of Section 243 of the Act says that a person who threatens another person for destroying or causing damage to their conveyance or building using fire or explosives is guilty of the crime.

Fault elements

The fault elements regarding this provision are the following,

  1. A person intentionally makes a threat or threatens another person to use fire or explosives substances that will cause damage to their conveyance or property or make someone fear that it will be carried out.


The Maximum Penalty for the crime under provision 3 is up to seven years of imprisonment.

Proving a threat of Arson

  1. It is not necessary to prove that the threatened person feared the threat.
  2. The threat may be conditional, unconditional, Implicit or explicit or made by any conduct.
  3. A threat to a person also includes a threat to a group of persons.

Bushfire offences

Section 244 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) deals with Bushfires.

Likely spread of fire

A person is guilty if,

  1. The person causes a firem,
  2. There’s a substantial risk,
  1. That the fire will spread to another person's property and destroy crops.
  2. The person cannot stop the fire.

Fault elements

The person was reckless to cause the fire or had intentionally caused the fire.

Maximum Penalty

The maximum penalty under this section for the crime is up to 15 years of imprisonment.

Land or fire management

Provision (1) does not apply to those who start the fire for land management or fire management if they were following the laws of the Northern Territory.

Using explosive substances to provoke a fire

Section 245 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) deals with a person leaving explosive substances at a place to provoke a fire.

A person is guilty if they leave explosives and other such substances on another person's property with the intention that it will cause fire and damage the property.

Maximum Penalty

The maximum penalty for such an offence under Section 245 is seven years of imprisonment.

Jurisdiction of Arson Offences

The High Court of the Northern Territory in Australia generally deals with Arson Offences.

How is a person convicted?

If a person got convicted for an Arson offence in Northern Territory, the court might award the following penalties. While citing one of these penalties, the court considers the circumstances of the matter, including individual cases, the defendant's background, and the seriousness of the offence. Penalties for an Arson offence may include;

  • Fines;
  • Community service order;
  • Imprisonment.

How does someone get a sentence for an Arson Offence?

The court considers the matter's question of fact, circumstances, and seriousness and the offender's background. The court also finds mitigating factors which argue against the penalty and the custodian sentence. Mitigating factors that reduce the ruling include the offender's character, such as age, criminal history, reputation, and good character. Before awarding the punishment, the court looks into and considers all the circumstances.

However, arson offences are given severe penalties because of the consequences caused by arson offences.

Why do people commit Arson Offences?

Individuals commit Arson offences in Northern Territory for several purposes.

  • Profit
  • Vandalism
  • Crime Concealment
  • Political interests
  • Burning Bushes

Defences available for Arson Offences

For Arson Offences in the Northern Territory, the following defences are available.

  • Intention
  • According to the Criminal Code Act of the NT the intention of the offender needs to be satisfied. Igniting fire needs to be done willfully.

  • Lawful excuse
  • The lawful excuse can serve as a defence against bushfires if the defendant proves that they started the fire for a lawful purpose.

  • Immature age of the offender
  • Those who are below the age of 10 cannot be held responsible for the crime.

  • Mental impairment (with medical proof)
  • Mental impairment may serve as a legal defence. Suppose the accused have a cognitive impairment to the point where the accused does not understand the nature of the conduct and distinguish between improper and proper behaviour. In such a case, the Court may find the accused to be not guilty. For example, a person with intellectual disability or mental illness.

  • Identity of the offender is in doubt
  • Identity can serve as a factual argument in court. The defendant can argue that the prosecution has not proven the offender’s identity beyond reasonable doubt.

Will an Arson offence show up on my Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

If an individual is convicted for the offence of Arson, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Individuals can obtain a police check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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