Fraud refers to a broad range of circumstances where a person dishonestly:
- obtains property
- obtains an advantage or benefit
- causes detriment, pecuniary or otherwise, to another person.
A key element of fraud is dishonesty.
To be criminally liable, the prosecution must prove you acted with a dishonest or fraudulent intent at the time of the alleged offence.
Penalties depend on circumstances such as:
- whether there was a relationship of trust and confidence between you and the complainant (e.g. employer/employee relationship)
- the monetary value of the fraud
- the level of sophistication and planning
- whether you have made payment of restitution.
It isn’t uncommon for penalties of imprisonment, including with actual custody, to be imposed for fraud offences.
Courts very carefully consider whether to record a conviction.
The consequences of a fraud charge and/or conviction may be serious and lifelong.
A fraud conviction can impact your ability to find employment, live overseas and obtain certain types of finance.
The defences for fraud offence include:
- honest claim of right—i.e. you were lawfully entitled to obtain the property, benefit, advantage or otherwise
- mistake of fact—i.e. you honestly and reasonably (albeit mistakenly) believed you were lawfully entitled to claim the property, benefit, advantage or otherwise
- you didn’t have fraudulent intent.
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