Dishonestly Cause a Loss
– section 135.1(3) of the Criminal Code Act 1995
This offence means doing something that results in a loss or risk of a loss to a Commonwealth organisation.
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 are some of the possible defences to a Dishonestly Cause a Loss charge?
- 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?
Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge
The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 5 years.
This offence could be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court, depending on the severity of the offence.
“Have you been charged with a Commonwealth dishonesty offence?”
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.
The section that covers this offence is section 135.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.1
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.
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.
Other important resources
- Sentencing Decisions from 1 January 2016 to 31 March 2018, arranged by severity of total effective sentence
- Dishonesty Offences under the Criminal Code
- Former AFP Employee Sentenced Over Nearly $50,000 Fraud.
 Criminal Code Act 1995 – Section 135.1(3)
(3) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person does anything with the intention of dishonestly causing a loss to another person; and
(b) the other person is a Commonwealth entity.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.
(4) In a prosecution for an offence against subsection (3), it is not necessary to prove that the defendant knew that the other person was a Commonwealth entity.
(5) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person dishonestly causes a loss, or dishonestly causes a risk of loss, to another person; and
(b) the first-mentioned person knows or believes that the loss will occur or that there is a substantial risk of the loss occurring; and
(c) the other person is a Commonwealth entity.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.
(6) Absolute liability applies to the paragraph (5)(c) element of the offence.