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 in Court

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 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Fixed Fees

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Accredited Specialists

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Convenience

    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 info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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