Obtain a Financial Advantage By Deception (Commonwealth – Centrelink Charge)

In Victoria, Obtain a Financial Advantage By Deception (Commonwealth) (Common Centrelink Charge) is found in section 134.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. It is a criminal offence that is committed by a person who was found to have dishonestly obtained a financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity. Note that this is different from section 135.2 wherein the person knew that they were not entitled to the financial advantage.

Have you been accused of Obtain a Financial Advantage By Deception (Commonwealth) (Common Centrelink Charge)? Cases concerning charges of this kind can often be complicated and involve a large volume of material. It is important you contact our office as soon as you receive any information about accusations of this kind.

Obtain Financial Advantage by deception - Centrelink
Police Interview
Before speaking with the Police or offering any information, we recommend you contact our office to discuss the purpose and procedure of Police interviews before you decide whether to attend. It is crucial you understand your rights. A Police interview is not the time or place where you explain your side of the story and hope the allegations will go away.

Police want to conduct an interview with you because they suspect you have committed the offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception (Commonwealth Centrelink charge) and hope you will make admissions which will assist in an investigation or prosecution of the charge against you.

Our lawyers regularly attend Police interviews. It is our experience that people feel comfortable attending with someone present to represent their interests, and to ensure Police conduct the process in a proper and appropriate way.

Pleading Not Guilty
We have significant experience in representing people charged with obtaining a financial advantage by deception (Commonwealth Centrelink charge). We assist our clients in building a case that will show they are not guilty of the offence. We are able to navigate the sophisticated and voluminous briefs of evidence that often accompany charges of this kind, and closely analyse the case that has been brought against you. We will work hard to defend you of this charge.

Pleading Guilty
If you are choosing to plead guilty to this charge, we will assist you in securing the most favourable outcome in the circumstances. We will also carefully assess the brief of evidence and negotiate any charges or facts if possible. We will gather all relevant and useful material, such as references and reports, to persuade the court to impose a sentence that is just, fair and appropriate. Our lawyers work hard to ensure clients are informed and supported throughout each stage of a court hearing until the best possible sentenced is imposed.

Sentencing
Sentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Obtaining Financial Advantage By Deception Drom a Commonwealth Entity in the Higher Courts
Which court will the case be heard in?
The Commonwealth offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception is the sort of offence generally heard in the Magistrates’ Court. However, if the quantum of the amount of money fraudulently received is over $100,000 then the matter will be heard in the County Court.

Examples of Obtain a Financial Advantage By Deception (Commonwealth – Centrelink Charge)
  • Lying about your employment status on a Centrelink form to receive a pension
  • Lying about your relationship status on a Centrelink form to receive a higher allowance
  • Lying to Centrelink about your capacity to work to obtain a disability pension
What is the legal definition of Obtain a Financial Advantage By Deception (Commonwealth – Centrelink Charge)?
A person commits this offence if he/she dishonestly obtains property belonging to a Commonwealth entity dishonestly with an intention of permanently deprive.

Definition of ‘Obtained’
Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, a person is taken to have obtained property if:

  1. the person obtains ownership, possession or control of the property for himself or herself or for another person; or
  2. the first person enables ownership, possession or control of it to be retained by himself or herself; or
  3. the person induces a third person to pass ownership, possession or control of it to another person. For example, convincing someone to receive a transfer of Commonwealth money and to then forward on to another person; or
  4. the person induces a second person to enable a third person to retain ownership, possession or control of the property. For example, person A leads Person B to believe that fraudulently obtained Commonwealth money belongs to Person C.
Definition of ‘Permanently Deprive’
The Commonwealth Criminal Code defines to ‘permanently deprive’ as:

  1. a person permanently obtains funds belonging to a Commonwealth entity without intending to return it; or
  2. a person obtains funds belonging to a Commonwealth entity without intending to permanently keep it, but he/she disposes of it and treats it as if it is their own.
Legislation
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 134.2 of Criminal Code Act 1995.

Elements of the offence
For this charge to be proven, the Prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. the accused dishonestly obtains a financial advantage from another person by deceiving that person; and
  2. the other person is a Commonwealth entity
“Can the Prosecution prove that you obtained a financial advantage?”

Defences
The following are a range of defences available if you are charged with this offence:

  • Factual dispute
  • Lack of intent to act dishonestly
  • No financial advantage was gained
  • Duress
  • Honest and reasonable mistake of belief as to fact
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you intentionally provide misleading information?
  • Were you mistaken when you completed the Centrelink form?
  • Has your circumstances changed since you provided the information?
  • Did you receive a financial benefit that you were not entitled to?
You should call our office on 9670 5111 to discuss your matter with one of our lawyers.

Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with our criminal lawyers.

Maximum penalty for section 134.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code
There is a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of obtaining financial advantage by deception (s134.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code).

Other important resources
Case studies related to Obtain a Financial Advantage By Deception (Commonwealth – Centrelink Charge)