General Dishonesty – s 135.1 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995


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The offence of “general dishonesty” refers to situations where you dishonestly obtain a gain from or cause a loss to a Commonwealth body or entity.

This offence sometimes overlaps with other Commonwealth fraud offences such as “obtaining a financial advantage by deception” and “obtaining property by deception,” however it is usually less serious.

An accusation of “general dishonesty” has the potential to result in serious consequences that may negatively impact your life and future.

However, as Sydney’s leading criminal defence team, our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to advise you of the best steps to take in your situation.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of “general dishonesty,” the prosecution must prove certain things beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you don’t believe that the prosecution will be able to make out each of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you should discuss the option of pleading “not guilty” with our criminal law specialists.

The elements of the offence with the prosecution must prove are:

  • That you obtained a gain or caused a loss to a Commonwealth entity;
  • That you did so dishonestly;
  • That you intended to obtain a gain or cause a loss through your actions.

Whether or not your actions are dishonest are determined by considering whether ordinary people would consider your actions to be dishonest, and whether you knew that your actions were dishonest.

The prosecution does not need to prove that you knew that the entity or body was a Commonwealth entity.

If you do not feel that the prosecution will be able to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, our lawyers can give you the best possible representation in court and fight the charges to avoid a conviction.

We guarantee that you will be represented by our senior defence lawyers; highly respected advocates with considerable experience in this area of the law who will fight hard to secure the best possible outcome in your case.

Our lawyers can assist in identifying any defences to the charges, which, if accepted by the court, will result in a finding of “not guilty.”

Possible defences include:

  • Where you were threatened or coerced into obtaining the benefit or causing the loss (duress)
  • Where you made an honest and reasonable mistake of fact in relation to the benefit or loss (honest and reasonable mistake of fact)

Take the first step in the right direction and enlist the help of our expert defence lawyers to protect your reputation and interests.

Pleading Guilty

In certain situations, you may not wish to defend the matter in court.

In these cases, you may simply wish to plead guilty from the outset.

This means that you will proceed straight to sentencing to have your penalty determined.

Pleading guilty early on can be a beneficial step to take in some cases as it will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions – accordingly, the court may be more inclined to impose a lenient penalty; known as a “discount” on your sentence.

However, before pleading guilty to the offence, it’s strongly advised that you speak to one of our criminal law experts.

Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to advise whether there is any way to fight the charges and escape a conviction altogether.

If you are considering pleading guilty, it’s also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that may apply in your case.

The maximum penalty for “general dishonesty” under the law is 5 years imprisonment.

It should be noted that this is the absolute maximum and will not apply in all cases – only the most serious cases.

The court will decide the appropriate penalty after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case.

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

Even if you are pleading guilty to the charges, it’s important to ensure that you are being represented by experienced lawyers who are able to put forth your side of the story in the most positive light to maximise your chances of obtaining a lenient outcome.

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we pride ourselves on our ability to obtain excellent results in even the most difficult cases.

Our ability to consistently obtain outstanding results in Commonwealth fraud cases is evidence of our lawyers’ willingness to go above and beyond in fighting to protect your rights.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we understand that being charged with a Commonwealth fraud offence is often a distressing and upsetting experience.

However, you can rest assured that our lawyers will guide you through every step of the court process from start to finish while fighting hard to protect your rights and interests.

We will take the time to listen to your side of the story and advise you of the best course of action.

In every case, our lawyers will push to have matters resolved at an early stage by carefully examining all the evidence to identify weaknesses or deficiencies in the prosecution case.

By writing to the prosecution and raising these issues, we are often able to have charges dropped; sparing our clients the time and expense of fighting the matter in court.

Should the prosecution refuse to drop the charges, our experienced senior lawyers will work alongside the best criminal defence barristers to construct a strong defence case.

We will work tirelessly to obtain all favourable evidence and present this evidence in the most positive light.

Our senior lawyers are highly skilled advocates who will strategically cross-examine all prosecution witnesses in order to cast doubt on the prosecution case.

Our lawyers can also assist you if you simply wish to enter a plea of “guilty.”

In these situations, we can prepare compelling sentencing submissions which persuade the court to impose the most lenient penalty possible.

We can also assist you in obtaining character references or medical records which may support your case and increase your chances of obtaining a favourable penalty.

So for the best result in your “general dishonesty” case, call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference with Sydney’s best criminal defence lawyers.

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