The Serious Offence of Making a Threat in WA

Threatening looking man slamming his fist on the table in anger.

Making a threat to another is a serious offence under Western Australian criminal law. In November last year two me were charged with offences relating to threats made to the WA Premier Mark McGowan.

Allegedly the men left telephone messages on the Premier’s telephone in circumstances where they had been drinking alcohol and discussing how they would lose their jobs under the COVID vaccination mandates.

The Premier's mobile phone number was made publicly available during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The men allegedly called the number and left threatening messages that were accompanied with obscenities.

Last week one of the men pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Armadale Magistrates Court. A plea of guilty was entered to a charge of making a false statement which was known to be false and which may reasonably have been construed as indicating a threat. The police prosecutor said Mr McGowan perceived the messages as a threat to him and his family.

The sentencing Magistrate said that the young man’s actions had shown a degree of immaturity. The court took into account the offender’s youth, his guilty plea and remorse. He was fined in the sum of $3,000. The co-accused has indicated he will plead not guilty to the charge against him. His case returns to court next month.

What does the law say about Threats charges?

Pursuant to Sections 338B and 338C of the Criminal Code Compilation Act 1913, it is a criminal offence for a person to make a threat to unlawfully –

(a) Kill, injure, endanger or harm any person (whether a particular person or not);

(b) Destroy, damage, endanger or harm any property (whether particular property or not);

(c) Take or exercise control of a building or structure or conveyance by use of force or violence;

(d) Cause a detriment of any kind to any person, whether a particular person or not, is guilty of a crime.


What the Prosecution must prove

1. That (through either words or behaviour) a threat was made to do any of the above things mentioned in (a)-(d);

2. That the threat was unlawful; and

3. That the threat was made to another person.

Threats can be made verbally – through dialogue or through written words, or they can be acted out. It is the making of the threat which constitutes the offence.

A conviction for the offence of making a threat to kill requires proof that a threat was made and that the threat, when viewed objectively, must declare an intention to kill. That requires an examination of the words used and the circumstances in which the words were spoken. Words which, taken at face value, might amount to a threat to kill will not constitute the offence if they are spoken in jest, parody or frustration. The words must convey an intention to kill.

Where the charge is one other than a threat to kill the prosecution is not required to prove that the accused had an intention to carry out the threat. However if the intention is established that is an aggravating factor relevant to sentence; R v Starr [1999]WASC 119.

A threat will be more serious if it was made in circumstances where the offender had the ability to carry out the threat; for example where the threat was made while the offender was armed with a weapon.



There are significant variations in the facts and circumstances of offences under section 338B and 338C of the Criminal Code. The sentence to be imposed in each case will largely depend on the particular facts and circumstances of the offence, having regard to the maximum penalty, and the personal circumstances of the offender.

Although there are generally significant variations in the factual circumstances of each case, there are also similarities. Threats charges often show an intention to frighten and humiliate the victim.

In circumstances where the threat is to kill, the matter must be determined before a judge in the District Court. There the maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment. If the threat to kill is made in circumstances of racial aggravation, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

Where the threat is one other than a threat to kill the charge can be dealt with either by the Magistrates Court or the District Court. Where the charge is brought on an indictment in the District Court the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment. The District Court penalty increases to 6 years imprisonment in circumstances of racial aggravation. If the charge is dealt with in the Magistrates Court the maximum penalty is 18 Months imprisonment and a fine of $18,000.


Contact Us

If you have been charged with the criminal offence of making threats and need representation from an experienced Criminal Lawyer, contact the Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices without delay on (08) 9278 2575.

PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.

Contact our lawyers now

At Andrew Williams Criminal Law we're here to help you with the best legal advice.

Testimonials Hear from our valued Clients

Words cannot express my gratitude for Andrew agreeing to take my case on, commit to returning from annual leave early, and the personal support and legal expertise provided in defending the driving charges made against me.

The delays I experienced by the two adjournments, while prolonging my anxiety and reducing my faith that I would receive a favourable outcome, worked very ...

Rel M
Rel M

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to ...

Colin W

I was on a very tight rope where, if it balanced the wrong way, it would have totally devastated my life. Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family. I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%.


Jason M

I cannot thank Andrew enough for his support and would not hesitate recommending your service to anyone who would need your help. I am eternally grateful to Andrew Williams who kept me informed as and when he had to and had no doubt in his professionalism. Thank you.


Pamela J
Pamela J

Had Andrew defend a reckless driving charge. He gave good solid advice throughout the process and defended me well at the trial. His costs were affordable and he was a great guy in general. The most important thing is we were able to have the charges dismissed via a not guilty verdict. I would recommend him to anyone.


Joly M
Joly M

Andrew represented me recently in a few difficult situations. I found him to be very professional, easily contactable and generally wanting a good outcome for me. I've passed his contact info to friends and if I ever need legal representation again I'll definitely be using his services.


Ryan B
Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.


Matt K
Matt K

Andrew was fantastic to deal with. His courtroom demeanor and skills were apparent. He was always able to assist with a complex matter across nearly 3 years in rural WA. Would highly recommend his services.


Wesley H
Wesley H

Of my limited experiences in the judicial system, I can’t rate Andrew Williams highly enough. He was fantastic on my day in court and was very straight up during my consultations. He is such an awesome person, and the best professional criminal lawyer I have ever encounter. Need help call Andrew.


Aaron J

Andrew was brilliant with my case and achieved the best outcome. He was very professional and was very impressive in the submissions he presented to the magistrate. Again, I can't thank you enough Andrew.


Danni H

Andrew was very preffesional and welcoming when dealing with my case.

In the court room I felt at ease knowing andrew was representing me.

I would highly reccomend andrew for everyone no matter how big or small the case is!



Thanks a lot for handling my case and getting the pleasant outcome. Since the first time I talked to you I have known that my case was in a capable hands. I am impressed by your knowledge and confidence which gave me confidence. Cheers.


Joe Y

Thank you so much Andrew for grooming me and going over the process over and again. It was a traumatic time for me and you kept me focused. I really appreciate your guidance and we came out with the best result.

I wouldn't of been able to hold up as I did if not for your valued support.

Sincerely, Kyley.


Kyley S

Andrew was very approachable, knowledgeable, professional and focused on the best outcome. I would always recommend him.


Kieran C

My personal experience with Andrew Williams was a pleasant one from day one. In the midst of a police raid and the inability to find legal representation I considered myself done for when Andrew took the time to call me back after I contacted his office (during which time he was in trial). Upon soliciting some legal advice, Andrew was straight with me and I made an appointment with him in which he clearly explaine...

Franciosco R

I was charged with the offence of aggravated common assault. I engaged Andrew Williams to act for me.

From the first time I met Andrew I knew that I was in the right hands. His level of professionalism both in and out of the court room was very impressive. Following a two day trial in the Perth Magistrates Court, I was found not guilty.

Andrew Williams assisted me through a very stressful peri...

Kyran H

My wife and I were so glad that we chose Andrew Williams to handle our sons Reckless Driving charge. What a relief to know we have people like him around to help.

Besides a failure to indicate and cutting the corner of a very sharp S bend in the road all other allegations by Police were not substantiated. After using a previous Law firm that basically told us that it was the 2 Police Office...

George M

I have nothing but good things to say about Andrew and his law services. He helped me more than I could possibly ask for during a difficult time facing the court. He was very efficient and precise and always happy to help and answer questions even last minute and after hours.

I believe he charges a very fair price considering the amount of work he put in for me to achieve the best possible result in cour...

Trent W

I trusted that Andrew was the person to defend my case in our initial contact on the phone. He was very confident in his approach, from the first point of contact to the court room. I believe this must be from years of experience. Another added bonus for Andrew is that he is very honest and fair. He tells you like it is in the book of law and does not appear manipulative. His communicat...

Abraham A

Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new criminal lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. He negotiated on my behalf with the pros...

Timothy R

After being charged with Common Assault of a minor I made a sensible decision not to use the local Kununurra law firm. I engaged Andrew Williams to assist me with resolving this matter (to the point of me being awarded costs). Despite being 4000km away I never had any issues with Andrew's commitment to my case. He promptly returned all calls and demanded I do likewise when important information needed to be e...

David C

Andrew Williams is a criminal laywer of much dedication I will never have the words of gratitude and admiration for his honesty and integrity I would highly recommend him to anyone who may require his services in the future


Helen M

I just wanted to take my time to explain my experience with Andrew Williams. I had an incident that could have really affected my future. As anyone does I called around all the lawyers in Perth and just not any lawyer but the ones who are highly respected amongst other lawyers and get the results. I have a friend who works in the industry and she recommended Andrew. She said she always sees Andrew in the paper with amazing outcomes to cases th...

Phillip C

Very happy with my representation and fair fees by Andrew, I highly recommend him.


Damian A

I found dealing with Andrew Williams Law Firms to be quite pleasant and professional. I have nothing but utmost regard for this firm and would recommend anyone who needs a good criminal lawyer.


Andrew H

If you want to get the best lawyer money can buy and get results? Look no further than Andrew Williams and get him in your corner. Not only is he a great guy I found his legal services very professional and knowledgeable and his attention to detail was faultless. This was a very tumultuous time in my life I was facing two criminal charges and my anxiety and stress levels were through the roof, but thanks to Andr...

Dan G

Go to top