Forgery

– section 144.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995

Forgery is when you create a fake document and convince someone to believe the document is true. And as a result you either gain something; cause someone to lose something; or influence a public official.
This kind of offence is heard in the County Court.
 
Examples of Forgery
  • A woman forges her medical qualifications and obtains work in a hospital.
  • A man makes a fake Australian passport and enters Australia on the passport.
“Have you been charged with a Commonwealth dishonesty offence?”
What is the legal definition of Forgery?
Forgery is when you make a false document with the intention of using it to dishonestly induce someone. And that person accepts it as a genuine document, resulting in you obtaining a gain, or causing a loss, or influencing the exercise of a public duty or function.

Legislation
The section that covers this offence is section 144.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Elements of the offence
For an accused to be proven guilty of this charge, the following elements must be established:

  • The accused made a false document with the intention that the person or another will use it:

    • To dishonestly induce a third person in the third person’s capacity as a public official to accept it as genuine; and
    • If it is so accepted, to dishonestly obtain a gain, dishonestly cause a loss, or dishonestly influence the exercise of a public duty or function; and
  • In the capacity of a Commonwealth public official; or
  • The accused made a false document with the intention that the person or another will use it:

    • To dishonestly cause a computer, a machine or an electronic device to respond to the document as if the document were genuine; and
    • If it is so responded to, to dishonestly obtain a gain, dishonestly cause a loss, or dishonestly influence the exercise of a public duty or function; and
     
  • The response is in connection with the operations of a Commonwealth entity; or
  • The accused made a false document with the intention that the person or another will use it:

    • To dishonestly induce a third person to accept it as genuine; and
    • If it is so accepted, to dishonestly obtain a gain, dishonestly cause a loss, or dishonestly influence the exercise of a public duty or function; and
     
  • The false document is a false Commonwealth document; or
  • The accused made a false document with the intention that the person or another will use it:

    • To dishonestly cause a computer, a machine or an electronic device to respond to the document as if the document were genuine; and
    • If it is so responded to, to dishonestly obtain a gain, dishonestly cause a loss, or dishonestly influence the exercise of a public duty or function; and
     
  • The false document is a false Commonwealth document.
 
  • No false documents were made.
  • No one was induced to believe the document was genuine.
  • There was no gain or loss caused.
  • No public official was influenced.
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
  • If any false documents were made, did someone else believe they were real and use them?
  • Did you convince the other person that the document was real?
  • Did you gain anything or cause any loss?

The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 10 years.
 
What can you be sentenced to for this charge?
Generally this is regarded as a serious offence and you are likely to get a prison sentence if found guilty. The term of your sentence will depend on the amount you gained from the forgery or the loss you caused as a result of the forgery. However, if it is a minor case of forgery you might get a fine.
 
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