Escape From Custody (Tas)

In Tasmania, offences relating to escaping from lawful custody are contained in the Criminal Code 1924 and the Corrections Act 1997. These are serious offences that can attract lengthy terms of imprisonment. This page deals with escape from custody offences in Tasmania.

What is lawful custody?

Under section 106 of the Criminal Code 1924, a person is in lawful custody if they have been lawfully arrested, if they have surrendered to their bail, or if they are in custody or detention on remand or to serve a sentence.

A person is also in lawful custody if they are subject to a treatment order or restriction order under the Criminal Justice (Mental Impairment) Act 1999 or an assessment order or treatment order under the Sentencing Act 1997.

The offence of escape

Under section 107 of the Criminal Code 1924, a person is guilty of a crime if they escape lawful custody.

Aiding escape

Under section 108 of the Criminal Code 1924, a person is guilty of a crime if they:

  • convey anything, or cause anything to be conveyed, into a place where a person is in lawful custody or to a person who is in lawful custody with intent to aid their escape;
  • intentionally or recklessly aid or allow a person to escape lawful custody;
  • harbour, maintain, or employ a person who is unlawfully at large having escaped lawful custody.

It is a defence to this charge if the accused did not know that the person had escaped lawful custody.


Escape and aiding escape are both strictly indictable offences and can only be finalized in the Supreme Court. The maximum penalty for each of these offences is 21 years imprisonment, which is the standard maximum penalty for indictable offences in Tasmania.

Escape from custody on leave of absence outside Tasmania

Under the Corrections Act 1997, in limited circumstances, a prisoner in Tasmania may be given an interstate leave permit to travel interstate. A permit may be issued for the prisoner to undergo medical treatment, to attend the funeral of someone they were in a longstanding relationship with, or to visit someone that they have had a longstanding relationship with and who is seriously ill or in acute personal need, or for another reason.

A person who escapes or attempts to escape custody while on an interstate leave permit is guilty of an offence and liable to up to seven years imprisonment. The sentence imposed must be served after the end of any term the person is currently serving.

Pleading guilty to escape from custody

If you have been charged with an escape from custody offence, there are a number of matters you should consider before deciding to plead guilty. Firstly, you should consider whether all the elements of the offence are made out and whether the prosecution can prove it. Secondly, you should consider whether any legal defence applies. Thirdly, you should consider the likely penalty range given the circumstances of the alleged offence and your personal circumstances including your criminal history.

Pleading not guilty to escape from custody

If you have been charged with an escape from custody offence, there may be a legal or a factual defence that applies. This may be:

  • that the alleged act did not occur;
  • that the accused was not the person who committed the alleged act;
  • that the accused was not in lawful custody;
  • that the accused acted under compulsion within the meaning of section 20 of the Criminal Code 1924;
  • the defence of insanity under section 17 of the Criminal Code 1924.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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