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Obtaining Property by Deception – s 134.1 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995

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“Obtaining property by deception” is a Commonwealth fraud offence.

It refers to situations where you dishonestly obtain money property that belongs to a Commonwealth body or entity without the relevant authority, or by lying to or deceiving another person.

While it can be daunting and stressful to be accused of a Commonwealth fraud offence such as obtaining property by deception, you can take the first step towards a positive outcome in your case by enlisting the help of our experienced criminal lawyers.

With years of experience fighting and winning some of the most complex fraud cases, you can rest assured that our lawyers have the knowledge and skill to secure the best possible result in your fraud case.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

If you believe that you are innocent, you may choose to enter a plea of “not guilty.” Our experienced criminal defence lawyers can then assist you in fighting the charges in court.

Before you can be found guilty of “obtaining property by deception,” the prosecution must prove certain factors beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you obtained property belonging to a Commonwealth entity;
  •  That you had the intention of permanently depriving the entity of the property;
  •  That you obtained the property dishonestly by deception.

If the prosecution is unable to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found “not guilty” of the offence.

Our lawyers will therefore work tirelessly to cast doubt on the prosecution case by raising all evidence that supports your case and dismantling the prosecution evidence and witness testimony.

We can also assist in identifying and raising all relevant defences to the charges, for example:

  • Where you were coerced or threatened into obtaining the property by deception (duress)
  • Where you made an honest and reasonable mistake – e.g. keeping property that you mistakenly believed that you were entitled to honest and reasonable mistake of fact

Our criminal defence team has extensive experience fighting and winning complex Commonwealth fraud cases and consistently obtains better results than any other law firms, even in the most serious cases.

Pleading Guilty

In some cases, you may not wish to fight the charges against you. In these situations, you may simply wish to enter a plea of guilty upfront.

If you choose this option you will proceed straight to sentencing, which is where the judge determines the appropriate penalty.

This can often be beneficial as it will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.

Accordingly, the court may impose a more lenient penalty than that which you would have received had you been found guilty following a criminal trial – this is known as a ‘discount’ on your sentence.

However, before pleading guilty to “obtaining property be deception,” it is strongly recommended that you speak to one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, who will be able to advise whether there is any way to fight the charges and escape a conviction altogether.

You should also be aware of the maximum penalty that may apply if you decide to plead guilty, which is 10 years imprisonment.

However, this is the absolute maximum and it will only apply in the most serious cases.

The court will decide the appropriate penalty after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case – so it pays to have an experienced lawyer on your side who can tell your side of the story in the most favourable manner.

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

Our specialist criminal defence team can assist you in avoiding these onerous penalties by preparing and presenting compelling sentencing submissions which focus on “mitigating” factors which reduce the seriousness of your actions.

Our ability to obtain outstanding results in even the most serious of cases is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our specialist defence lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “obtaining property” mean?

You will be found to have obtained property where you:

  • Gain ownership, possession or control of the property for yourself or another person;
  • Allow yourself or another person to gain ownership, possession or control of the property;
  • Induce a third party to pass ownership, possession or control of the property to another person;
  • Induce a third party to allow another person to retain ownership, possession or control of the property;
  • Cause money to be transferred from another person’s account to your own;
  • Cause money to be transferred from another person’s account to the account of a third party.

What does “deception” mean?

The prosecution must prove that you obtained the property in question by deceiving another person.

You may have deliberately deceived the other person, or you may have done so recklessly (that is, you should have known that your conduct would or could have deceived another person.)

You may be taken to have acted deceptively where you:

  • Engage in conduct that causes a computer, machine or electronic device to make an unauthorised response or transaction;
  • Where you lie or mislead another person about your intentions.

What does “intention to permanently deprive” mean?

To be found guilty of obtaining property by deception, the prosecution must prove that you had the intention to permanently deprive the Commonwealth entity of the property in question.

This means that you must have deliberately taken the property without any intention of returning it to the Commonwealth entity.

You will be found to have had an intention to permanently deprive the Commonwealth entity of the property where:

  • You do not intend for the Commonwealth to permanently lose the property in question, but you intend to treat the property of your own to dispose of regardless of the fact that it is not yours, or;
  • Where you borrow the property from the Commonwealth entity, or lend the property to another person for such a lengthy period of time that it amounts to taking the property in question;
  • Where the property is in your possession and you lend it to another person without the authority of the Commonwealth entity, knowing that they may not give it back.

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:

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD offices, 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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