Fraud Defence Lawyers Sydney
Fraud charges are becoming one of the most prosecuted offences in the criminal courts. It is viewed very seriously in the internet age of phishing scams, online banking, emails, and social media. If you’ve been found guilty of the offence of fraud, you could be facing penalties of a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment, fines or both.
Australian Criminal Law Group is home to Sydney’s best fraud lawyers. If you have been charged with fraud, get in touch with us on 02 8815 8167 for the best possible defence. Our expert criminal lawyers regularly represent people charged with all kinds of fraud with clients ranging from first offenders to organized crime syndicates.
Fraud cases are often circumstantial, and charges can often be successfully defended.
If you intend to plead guilty to a Fraud charge, depending on the seriousness, we have fraud offences dismissed without convictions without our clients being sentenced to prison. Read more about having no conviction recorded for Fraud.
What is fraud?
Offences related to fraud in New South Wales are dealt with under section 19e of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The Act states that it is a criminal offence for anyone to use deception, to dishonestly;
- acquire property that belongs to someone else;
- obtain financially advantage; or
- create financial disadvantage for somebody else;
Even if money was paid to acquire property, if the prosecution can show you acted deceptively or dishonestly, you can still be charged with fraud.
The court will judge whether your actions were deceptive or dishonest by using the standard of an ordinary person – i.e., would an ordinary person consider the conduct to be dishonest? – and whether you knew, or should have known that the conduct was dishonest according to the standards of an ordinary person.
Key Definitions relating to Fraud
To understand what may constitute a fraudulent act, there are some key terms that need to be defined.
Deception is defined in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as something that you say or do where the act of doing so was conceived and executed to deliberately and intentionally mislead a person (victim).
The crimes act provides examples of deception as;
-Deceiving somebody about your intentions.
-Causing a computer to respond in a way that you don’t have the proper authority to do so. Such as accessing somebody else’s computer by entering their password without their consent.
To commit fraud, the deception must be either intended or reckless.
Recklessness is where you were aware that what you were doing was possibly deceptive, but you did it anyway. You were, essentially, indifferent to the possibility that your conduct was deceptive.
Whether the act was dishonest or not is based on the standards of ordinary people and whether the act was known to have been dishonest by the defendant, according to the standards of ordinary people.
Dishonesty is a matter to be decided by the courts. In deciding whether somebody has been dishonest the magistrate or jury, depending on the case, will apply the standards of ordinary people to determine if the conduct was dishonest.
Obtains Property Belonging to Another
This is where a person obtains or enables ownership of property belonging to another person or where a third person is induced to do something that results in obtaining, retaining, possessing or controlling the property. To be found guilty of fraudulently obtaining property belonging to another, the person must have intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Obtaining a financial advantage
Obtaining a financial advantage is a fraudulent act where a person deceives another to dishonestly obtain a financial advantage for themselves or for someone else. It can also include inducing a third person to do something that results in obtaining a financial advantage for oneself or another person.
Obtaining a financial advantage includes where a person causes any financial disadvantage to another or where a third person is induced to do so. This advantage or disadvantage could be permanent or temporary.
Penalties for fraud
NSW courts treat Fraud offences seriously. If found guilty of committing fraud, you could be facing a maximum prison sentence of anywhere from 2 to 10 years depending on where the matter is heard. You may also receive a fine or both a fine and imprisonment. Penalties can also include Community Corrections Order or Intensive Correction Order.
Depending on the offence, the maximum penalties for fraud vary as listed below.
- Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records: 5 years imprisonment
- Intention to defraud by false or misleading statement: 5 years imprisonment
- Intention to deceive members or creditors by a false or misleading statement of officer of organisation: 7 years imprisonment.
- Deal with identification information with the intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence: 10 years imprisonment
- Possess identification information with the intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence: 7 years imprisonment
- Possess equipment to make identification document or thing with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence: 3 years imprisonment
- Make false document: 10 years imprisonment
- Use false document: 10 years imprisonment
- Possess false document: 10 years imprisonment
- Make or possess equipment for making false document forgery: 10 years imprisonment.
The statutory alternative for the offence of fraud is larceny. This means a person tried for obtaining benefit by deception but instead was found guilty of larceny.
Which court deals with fraud charges in NSW?
Fraud cases are indictable offences. In NSW the District Court deals with indictable offences sometimes and strictly indictable offences all the time. If an indictable fraud charge is extremely serious, then the matter will be heard in the District Court. Less serious indictable fraud offences will normally be heard in the Local Court.
How do I beat Fraud charges?
You will be found not guilty of the offence of Fraud if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:
- You intentionally or recklessly*; and
- By deception, dishonestly (by the standards of ordinary people and known by you to be dishonest according to the standards of ordinary people): and
- Obtained property belonging to another; or
- Obtained any financial advantage** or caused any financial disadvantage; and
- You intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
*To be found guilty of fraud, deception must have been intentional or reckless. This includes where the accused foresaw the possibility of the victim being deceived but continued anyway. Therefore, you cannot be guilty of fraud if the deception was genuinely unintentional and unforeseen.
**Receiving money from fraud does not make you guilty unless you know where the money came from.
Pleading guilty to fraud
If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove so, it is best to plead guilty to the fraud charges. You will normally receive a discount on your sentence, and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts, or even a less serious charge.
Fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment in the District Court or two years imprisonment if the offence is dealt with in the Local Court. These penalties are typically reserved for the worst offenders.
Our solicitors have a proven track record of keeping our clients out of jail. Depending on the seriousness of the allegation, also having no conviction recorded There is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record.
Read about all the sentencing options that a court has, including not having a conviction recorded.
Sentencing considerations if found guilty of fraud
There are several factors that are taken into consideration to determine the seriousness of the offence committed. This will impact both where the matter will be heard as well as the severity of the sentencing imposed should you be found guilty of criminal fraud. These include the following.
The amount of money involved or the size of loss:
Where the amount of money involved is substantial, the victim/prosecutor are likely to have the matter heard in the district court. The penalties imposed, should the defendant be found guilty, will be determined by the severity of the impact the crime had on the victim or the state. The more profound the impact, the greater the penalties that are likely to be applied.
The length of time over which the offences were committed:
The period of time that the offence occurred indicates the degree of planning involved and whether the offence was impulsive or not. Where the offence took place over a period of time, the courts will take a more serious stance and impose more serious penalties.
The degree of planning and sophistication:
Whether the offence was impulsive or planned and/or organised will help the court determine the appropriate sentence. Where the crime was committed due to an opportunistic situation, the courts are likely to be more lenient vs. those that are part of sophisticated planning to commit a fraudulent crime. The higher the level of sophistication in planning and organising the crime, the more sever the penalties are likely to be.
The motive for the fraudulent act
Whether the fraud was committed for greed or other reasons, such as financial difficulty or altruistic reasons, will help the courts determine the severity of the penalties to be applied. For example, if the fraud was committed in order to help pay for family necessities like medical bills, rent, etc. then the courts are more likely to issue a lenient sentence. However, those committed out of greed, hatred or other reasons will likely receive a harsh sentence.
Breach of trust:
Typically, a fraudulent act involves a breach of trust. The victim imposes trust on the offender and that trust is breached. The severity of the breach of trust is considered in determining the severity of punishment imposed by the courts.
The sentencing judge or magistrate may also consider the need to impose more lengthy prison sentences in order to deter others/the general public from committing similar offences. They may also do so to discourage repeat offenders from repeating their crimes.
Getting bail for fraud charges
To get bail with fraud charges, there are a number of factors that need to be shown to convince the courts that there is no “unacceptable risk” if you are released. Those determining factors include how likely you are to fail to appear in court, commit another serious offence, interfere with witnesses or evidence, or if you are a danger to the safety of the victims or the community in general.
Bail may be more difficult to obtain for offences relating to using false identification documents or if there is unrecovered money from the fraud offence. This is because you are more likely to be deemed a flight risk by the courts.
Your defence lawyer is the best equipped to help you get bail for fraud charges. We recommend contacting Australian Criminal Law Group to assist in your bail application should you be charged.
Do I need references if pleading guilty to fraud charges?
We believe references are an extremely important part of a plea of guilty in court. Read more about how to write a good reference.
Why choose Australian Criminal Law Group?
Our criminal lawyers are experts at obtaining the best outcome possible for Fraud. For these offences, a good lawyer can be the difference between a conviction and no criminal record and freedom or jail.
Mr Correy represented two young men charged with defrauding their employer of tens of thousands of dollars by creating fake customer accounts to obtain commissions. Our solicitor submitted that their criminal culpability was lower than most similar cases. Their manager had drawn them into the scheme unwittingly and they continued the criminal behaviour acting under a degree of duress. They feared they would lose their jobs if they ceased. The Magistrate agreed with our lawyers’ submissions and dismissed the charges pursuant to section 10. No conviction was recorded.
Mr Correy represented a man charged with 11 counts of fraud, two counts of participating in a criminal group and deriving profit from one, and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime. These offences had a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, and Mr Correy had all the offences withdrawn, including a new charge of dealing with money reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime. The deal that Mr Correy got his client was better than all the co-Accused received. At the sentencing, the magistrate did not record a conviction.
Joseph represented a woman who defrauded her employer out of $280,000 dollars over a period of 18 months. He negotiated the figure to $210,000. He convinced the court to give his client 15 months home detention.
Australian Criminal Law Group represented a client charged with defrauding a charity of $150,000. He successfully argued that the court had alternatives to imprisonment and the Magistrate did not send her to jail.
Mr Correy represented a young man pleading guilty to tampering with odometers and then reselling cars at inflated values. He defrauded a dozen people for a profit of more than $50,000.00 over 12 months. Fair Trading did not detect his illegal activities until more than six months after he had ceased engaging in the criminal behaviour. Mr Correy argued that due to his voluntary cessation of criminal activity there was a public interest in dealing with him leniently. The Magistrate agreed and he received a good behaviour bond.
Sources: Crimes Act 1900 No 40, Part 4AA, Division 2, Section 192E. Current Version for 1 January 2022 to date (accessed 16 February 2022). https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1900-040
This information is intended as a general guide to law only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, and it is recommended that you speak with a qualified lawyer about your situation.
Australian Criminal Law Group and its suppliers make every reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information provided on its web pages. At the time of updating, this information was correct, however, given the laws in NSW and Australia are continually changing, Australian Criminal Law Group makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy.