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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Computer Crime Offences Computer Crime Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

    Computer Crime Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

    With all the benefits of technology and electronic systems, it is not free of abuse and is being used as a tool for illegalities. Like any other States and Territories in Australia and worldwide, computer crimes are a common occurrence, and the result can be disastrous.

    Western Australia (WA) has strong laws regarding the illegal or unauthorised use of a computer device or other electronic equipment.

    The laws on computer crimes are stipulated in various Acts/legislations that invariably prohibits all forms of unauthorised;

    • Access,
    • Modification,
    • Impairment,
    • Loading of programs (especially harmful and toxic programs),
    • Other unethical dealings with computers (especially under private or licensed settings).

    If an individual is convicted in a Western Australian court for a Computer Crime offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a criminal background check in Western Australia.

    The offence will be disclosed on a criminal history check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme in Western Australia.

    What Western Australian Legislation contains Computer Crimes?

    WA communicates its counteraction against computer offences mainly through the following Acts;

    In many ways and through various dedicated sections, the above legislations prohibit computer offences of various forms.

    1. Unlawful Use of a computer under the Law

    It is a serious offence for a person to unlawfully use a computer or any other electronic system that has;

    • ✔ Restricted access or is of a private status
    • ✔ The data contained in the computer is private

    Unlawful use of a computer in this section includes cases where the person;

    • Use a computer when they are not in the “legal” position to do so,
    • Use the computer in a manner conflicting with its original purpose.
    • Gain access to special or particular information

    A person unlawfully uses a computer under this section if;

    If they use it without being authorized or licensed to use the computer

    Or

    They use it in a manner not approved for someone authorised to use.

    1. The offence of unlawfully using a computer

    It is an offence for a person to unlawfully use a computer (privately accessed) is guilty of a crime.

    • ✔ If the person through such action gains a benefit or monetary gain of any kind, or
    • ✔ Causes a form of detriment or disadvantage to a person or group.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as $5000 or 10 years imprisonment.

    1. Intended to cause detriment using a computer

    However, if the person intended to cause such detriment, monetary gain or similar, it is an offence that incurs five years imprisonment.

    The crime incurs as much as two years imprisonment for any other purpose.

    If the offence is treated as a summary offence under WA law, it incurs penalty as much as:

    • 12 months imprisonment
    • $12,000 in fines

    1. Supplying Identification material to commit an indictable offence

    Section 490 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA) prohibits using, providing or dealing with identification material with detrimental purpose. This section is immaterial if the accused person finally uses the identification document in a physical offence.

    It incurs a penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment or a maximum penalty stipulated for the original indictable offence.

    This section describes identification information as;

    • Name, address, Date of Birth, marital certificates, Photo ID Bank details, Records, other relevant records.

    1. Possessing ID materials with intent to commit offence

    It is an offence that a person to hold or possess an ID material or similar with the intent to cause an indictable offence in WA. The court finds a person guilty of such an act is guilty of a crime that attracts five years imprisonment.

    If the court tries the person summarily in a lower court, the maximum penalties are;

    • 24 months imprisonment and $24,000 in fine amounts.

    It is immaterial to the court that the act (offence) was practically impossible at the time.

    1. Possessing ID equipment with the intent to commit an indictable offence

    It is an offence to possess or own an equipment that is notably useful in making a false ID material. A person who possesses this material with the intent of committing an indictable offence is guilty of a crime that incurs five years.

    If the matter is treated summarily, it incurs;

    • 24 months imprisonment and $24 000 in fine amounts.

    1. Dealing with identification information

    It is an offence to use another person's identity deceitfully or to commit a crime. This section describes an offence that is commonly referred to as identity fraud. It includes cases where the person assumes the victim's identity or intends to.

    Section 372 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA) stipulates five years imprisonment for such offences.

    1. Impairing electronic devices

    Section 474 of WA’s criminal code describes an offence where a person manufactures, advertises, sells or possesses an interception device. It is an offence that incurs as much as five years imprisonment.

    1. Online Threats with a computer

    Section 338B of the Act criminalises any act that involves uncivil and aggressive behaviour towards another person using digital tools or devices. It is an offence to

    • Stalk,
    • Threaten,
    • Harm,
    • Blackmail,
    • Abuse,
    • Or any other aggressive act to a person using a computer device.

    Depending on the circumstance of the matter, the penalty for such offences can reach up to 14 years imprisonment.

    1. Conveying false threats or information

    It is an offence to convey an information or threat knowing it is false and with the plan to;

    • ✔ Harm a person through any means
    • ✔ Threaten or blackmail a person,
    • ✔ Harass the victim,
    • ✔ Cause detriment to any other person.

    It is an offence that incurs as much as ten years imprisonment.

    1. Criminal defamation

    Section 345 of the Act criminalises any libellous, untrue and defamatory material about another person without lawful excuse.

    It is an offence, especially in cases where;

    • ✔ The accused person knows the matter to be false or where reckless to the truth of the material.
    • ✔ Intended to cause harm to the victim or were reckless to the result of such material
    • ✔ It is an offence that leads to 3 years imprisonment under the law.

    However, it is a defence if the person can prove the allegations or honest analysis.

    What court hears a computer offence in WA?

    There are various descriptions and ranges for matters that constitute computer offences. Most times, the court has the task of deciding which matters are heard in the lower or higher court.

    Serious computer offences are decided by higher courts such as the District Courts. Other computer offences are heard in a Magistrates court.

    Will a Computer Crime Offence in Western Australia (WA) show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a Computer Crime offence in Western Australia (WA), the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police clearance check.

    Individuals can obtain a nationally coordinated criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_218_homepage.html

    Western Australia Police Force (Technology Crime) - https://www.police.wa.gov.au/Crime/Technology-crime

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