Tax Offences – Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995


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Being charged with a Commonwealth fraud offence can be a confronting and stressful experience that may result in onerous penalties.

But you can breathe easier knowing that the expert team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers is working hard to protect your innocence.

Fraud refers to situations where you acted dishonestly to gain some benefit for yourself or for another person.

There is no single ‘fraud’ offence under the Commonwealth legislation; rather, there are a series of different offences.

The most common fraud offences are obtaining a financial advantage by deception and conspiracy to defraud.

Obtaining a financial benefit by deception – s 134.2 Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995

The charge of ‘obtaining a financial advantage by deception’ refers to situations where you acted dishonestly to obtain some financial benefit from a Commonwealth entity, such as the Australian Tax Office or Centrelink.

Obtaining a financial advantage by deception is a serious offence which may result in harsh penalties; however, with the assistance of our expert lawyers, you can ensure that you get the best possible result.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of obtaining a financial benefit by deception, the prosecution must prove three factors beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you acted dishonestly or deceptively;
  • You gained a financial benefit or advantage as a result of your dishonest or deceptive actions;
  • The benefit or advantage was obtained from a Commonwealth entity (such as the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink or some other government body)

If you do not feel that the prosecution will be able to prove each and every one of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you may want to discuss the option of pleading ‘not guilty’ with your lawyer.

If you plead ‘not guilty,’ you will be able to have your case heard – meaning that you will be able to tell the court your side of the story to affirm your innocence. For example, you may be able to argue that you had no intention to act dishonestly, or that you didn’t actually obtain any financial benefit.

In some cases, you may have a good reason to justify or explain your actions. Pleading ‘not guilty’ will give you the opportunity to raise any possible defences to the charges. These may include:

Pleading Guilty

If you accept the allegations against you, you may wish to plead guilty to the charge of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

In some cases, pleading guilty to the charges as soon as possible may help you get a more lenient penalty, because the court will take your remorse and honesty in accepting the charges into account when determining your sentence.

However, you should always speak to an experienced criminal lawyer before entering a plea, as you may be able to defend the charges and escape conviction altogether.

If you’re thinking about pleading guilty, you may want to know what kind of penalties you could face for obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years’ imprisonment, however you will not necessarily be sent to prison for 10 years – the maximum penalty is only imposed in the most serious cases. Rather, the court will determine the appropriate penalty based on the facts and circumstances of your case.

The courts have a number of alternative penalty options at their disposal, for example:

Conspiracy to defraud – s 135.4 Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995

Conspiracy to defraud is very similar to the offence of ‘obtaining a financial advantage by deception’, discussed above, however it has a further element of conspiracy – that is, the prosecution must also prove that you had an agreement with another person (or several other persons) to defraud a Commonwealth entity, such as Centrelink or the Australian Tax Office.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

To be found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you conspired with another person
  • To obtain a financial advantage for yourself or another party
  • The financial advantage was obtained from a Commonwealth entity (such as the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink or some other government body)

If you do not believe that the prosecution will be able to prove these three elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you may want to consider pleading not guilty to the charges.

Pleading not guilty will allow you the opportunity to present your case to the court to prove your innocence.

In other cases, you may have had a good reason for your conduct. In these situations, you may be able to raise a defence to explain your actions. If your defence is accepted, you will be found not guilty.

The defences that may be open to you may include:

Pleading Guilty

If you don’t wish to fight the charges, you may consider pleading guilty as soon as possible.

By entering a plea of guilty at the first available opportunity, you may be able to get a more lenient penalty – this is because the court will recognise your remorse for your actions in entering an early guilty plea.

However, before you enter a plea of guilty, it’s important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer because you may be able to fight the charges and be found ‘not guilty’ of the offence.

If you’re considering pleading guilty, you might want to know what kind of penalties you could face.

Under the law, the maximum penalty for conspiracy to defraud is 10 years imprisonment.

But this does not necessarily mean that you will go to prison for 10 years if you plead guilty to the charges – the maximum penalty only applies in the most serious fraud cases. The type of penalty that you will receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case.

The court has the power to impose a number of different penalties, for example:

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being charged with a fraud offence can have a negative impact on your life, affecting your career prospects and threatening your liberty.

But you don’t have to fight the battle alone – by engaging one of our expert criminal lawyers, you can rest assured knowing that you will get the best possible result in your case.

The team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers has years of experience defending and winning all types of complex Commonwealth matters, including numerous fraud cases.

Our lawyers possess in-depth knowledge of this complex area of the law, setting us a cut above other law firms.

Our expert lawyers fight hard to win each case – going above and beyond the call of duty in examining all the evidence to adduce problems with the prosecution case.

In many cases, we push to have matters dropped before they end up in court, saving you time and money.

We take the time to help our clients understand the charges against them, so that they can make an informed decision about what to do next.

We guarantee representation by one of our well-respected senior criminal lawyers at each and every court date – so you know that you are getting the best possible legal representation.

Don’t delay – call us now on (02) 9261 8881 to book your FREE first conference with our experts, and take the first steps towards securing a positive outcome in your fraud case.

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