False or Misleading Information

– section 137.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995

False or Misleading Information
False or Misleading Information is when someone lies to a Commonwealth organisation.

Examples of False or Misleading Information
  • A woman tells Centrelink she is single and lives with a friend when in fact, she lives with her partner.
  • A man who was injured at work receives Work Cover and then does casual cash in hand work and does not disclose this work to Work Cover.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of False or Misleading Information?
  • You did not give any false or misleading information to a Commonwealth organisation.
  • You did not know that the information was false or misleading.

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
  • Did you forget to tell Centrelink something important?
  • Have you kept information from Centrelink or another government organisation?
  • Can they prove you knew the information was false or misleading?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 12 months.

This offence would be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“Did you lie to Centrelink?”
What is the legal definition of False or Misleading Information?

The Prosecution must show that you provided information to a Commonwealth organisation with the knowledge that the information was false or misleading. Or you failed to provide certain details, resulting in the information being misleading.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 137.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.1

Elements of the offence

A person may be found guilty of False or Misleading Information (Commonwealth) if the following elements are proven in court:

  • The accused gave information to another person; and
  • The accused knew that the information was false or misleading; or
  • The accused omitted any matter or thing without which the information is misleading; and
  • The information was given to a Commonwealth entity; or
  • The information was given to a person who is exercising powers or performing functions under, or in connection with, a law of the Commonwealth; or
  • The information was given in compliance or purported compliance with a law of the Commonwealth.

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

You will mostly likely receive a fine or a Community Corrections Order if found guilty of this offence. However in serious cases you may might get some months in prison.

Other Important Resources
Case Studies

 


[1] Criminal Code Act 1995 – Section 137.1

(1) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person gives information to another person; and
(b) the person does so knowing that the information:
(i) is false or misleading; or
(ii) omits any matter or thing without which the information is misleading; and
(c) any of the following subparagraphs applies:
(i) the information is given to a Commonwealth entity;
(ii) the information is given to a person who is exercising powers or performing functions under, or in connection with, a law of the Commonwealth;
(iii) the information is given in compliance or purported compliance with a law of the Commonwealth.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 12 months.
(1A) Absolute liability applies to each of the subparagraph (1)(c)(i), (ii) and (iii) elements of the offence.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply as a result of subparagraph (1)(b)(i) if the information is not false or misleading in a material particular.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply as a result of subparagraph (1)(b)(ii) if the information did not omit any matter or thing without which the information is misleading in a material particular.
(4) Subsection (1) does not apply as a result of subparagraph (1)(c)(i) if, before the information was given by a person to the Commonwealth entity, the Commonwealth entity did not take reasonable steps to inform the person of the existence of the offence against subsection (1).
(5) Subsection (1) does not apply as a result of subparagraph (1)(c)(ii) if, before the information was given by a person (the first person ) to the person mentioned in that subparagraph (the second person ), the second person did not take reasonable steps to inform the first person of the existence of the offence against subsection (1).
(6) For the purposes of subsections (4) and (5), it is sufficient if the following form of words is used:
Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence.