Being charged with fraud can have a devastating impact on your life, affecting your ability to work and obtain financial assistance in the future.
However, with the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer with an in-depth knowledge of this complex area of the law, you can give yourself the strongest possible defence against the allegations.
What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?
If you have been charged with fraud under s 192E of the Crimes Act, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be found ‘guilty.’
That by deception, you acted dishonestly
The law says that you can act deceptively through words or any other conduct. This may include deceiving another person about your intentions, or using a computer, machine or electronic device to make an unauthorised transaction – for example, transferring money that is not yours.
Dishonesty is judged by the standard of an ordinary person – this means that the court will consider whether an ordinary person would have found your conduct to be dishonest, and whether you should have known that your conduct was dishonest according to the standards of an ordinary person.
That your deceptive or dishonest actions allowed you to obtain a financial advantage or another person’s property, or caused someone else to suffer a financial disadvantage
The prosecution must prove that you either obtained a financial benefit or obtained property (that is, you obtained ownership, possession or control of the property) for yourself or for another person, or allowed the property to be kept by you when it legally belonged to someone else.
For property to belong to another person, the other person must either have possession or control of the property, or they must legally own it.
Property can include physical property, as well as other intangible goods such as shares, debts, and electronic money.
You may also be found guilty of fraud where you cause another person to suffer a financial disadvantage – that is, where you cause another person to suffer a financial loss that they should not have suffered.
That your actions were either intentional or reckless
The prosecution must also prove that your actions were deliberate, or that they were reckless (that is, you should have known that what you were doing was dishonest and deceptive but you continued to do it anyway).
Your Options in Court
Pleading Not Guilty
To be found guilty of fraud under s 192E, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That by deception, you acted dishonestly
- That your actions allowed you to obtain a financial advantage or another person’s property, or caused someone else to suffer a financial disadvantage
- That your actions were either intentional or reckless
If you do not believe that the prosecution will be able to make out any one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you may wish to plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges and fight them in court to prove your innocence – for example, you may argue that you did not act deceptively or dishonestly.
You may also wish to raise a defence to explain or justify your actions. If raised successfully, a defence can result in a verdict of ‘not guilty’.
Available defences include:
- Where you honestly believed you were legally entitled to the property (claim of right)
- Where you were coerced or threatened into the fraudulent conduct (duress)
- Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the fraudulent conduct
- Where you engaged in the fraudulent conduct to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)
If you do not want to fight the charges, you may wish to enter a plea of guilty at the first available opportunity.
There are several benefits to entering an early guilty plea – you will be spared the time and expense of a trial or hearing to determine your guilt, but perhaps most importantly, you may receive a discount on your sentence (in other words, you may receive a less onerous penalty).
However, before you plead guilty to any offence, it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal lawyer who will be able to advise you on whether you are able to raise a defence.
If you are willing to enter a guilty plea, it is also important to familiarise yourself with the maximum penalties that may apply.
If you are found guilty of fraud under s 192E of the Crimes Act, you could face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. However, this is a maximum penalty – meaning that it will only apply in the most serious fraud cases.
The penalty that you will receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case, such as the extent of your dishonesty and the value of the financial benefit obtained. The court can also consider other factors, such as your prior criminal record and your likelihood of reoffending.
The court is able to impose a range of penalties, including:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
Remember, you can significantly increase your chances of getting a favourable penalty by getting an experienced criminal lawyer on your side with an in-depth knowledge of the law relating to fraud.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with. Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.
Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.
Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.
Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.
We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm
We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.
The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.
We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
Free First Appointment
For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.
We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
Specialist Lawyer Guarantee
We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.
This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
All NSW Courts
From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.
And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.
All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.
An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.
Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.
Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
Results-Focused Law Firm
Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.
The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.
Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.
No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
Team of Lawyers Behind You
Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.
Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.
A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.
In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
Familiar with Magistrates and Judges
Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.
Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.