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Dishonestly Cause a Loss

This offence means doing something that results in a loss or risk of a loss to a Commonwealth organisation.
dishonestly cause a loss
This offence could be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court, depending on the severity of the offence.
 
Examples of Dishonestly Cause a Loss
  • A woman working for the Commonwealth Department of Defence leaks important intelligence documents to the media which then become public
  • A former Minister for a Commonwealth Department uses funds from the Department for his political campaign
What is the legal definition of Dishonestly Cause a Loss?
Intentionally and dishonestly causing a loss, or a risk of loss, to a Commonwealth entity.

“Have you been charged with a Commonwealth dishonesty offence?”

Legislation
The section that covers this offence is section 135.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Elements of the offence
A person may be found guilty of this offence if the prosecution is able to establish the following elements in court beyond reasonable doubt:

  • The accused performed an act with the intention of dishonestly causing a loss to another person.
  • The other person is a Commonwealth entity.

  • You did not cause a loss or a risk of loss
  • There was no loss or risk of loss
There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was there a loss to a Commonwealth organisation?
  • Was there a risk of loss?

The maximum penalty for the offence of (s135.1(3) of the Criminal Code Act 1995) is imprisonment for 5 years.

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?
In cases where the loss is extensive and significant you may face a prison sentence. However, a fine or a Community Corrections Order is more likely for causing a loss that is not significant.

Sentencing in the higher courts
Between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 201 there were 26 instances of this charge being heard in the higher courts. Of those 26, 11.5% were finalised by way of adjourned undertaking, discharge or dismissal. 34.6% were dealt with by way of a wholly suspended sentence, 34.6% by way of a partially suspended sentence. Finally 19.2% were finalised with a term of imprisonment.