Fraud is an offence of dishonesty. It is contained in section 408C of the Queensland Criminal Code and refers to a broad range of circumstances where a person dishonestly obtains property, an advantage or benefit or causes detriment, pecuniary or otherwise, to another person.
A key element of the offence of fraud is dishonesty. In order to be criminally liable, the prosecution must prove that the accused acted with a dishonest or fraudulent intent at the time of the alleged offence.
There are numerous defences to a charge of fraud, including:
- honest claim of right - i.e. the accused person was lawfully entitled to obtain the property/benefit/advantage or otherwise;
- mistake of fact - i.e. the accused person honestly and reasonably (albeit mistakenly) believed that they were lawfully entitled to claim the property/benefit/advantage;
- the accused person did not have fraudulent intent.
Penalties for fraud offences vary depending on the circumstances. Matters which affect the seriousness of the offence include:
- whether there was a relationship of trust and confidence between the accused person and the complainant (for instance, employer/employee relationship);
- the quantum or monetary value of the fraud;
- the level of sophistication and pre-planning; and
- whether there has been payment of restitution.
It is not uncommon for penalties of imprisonment including with actual custody to be imposed for fraud offences. In addition, the question of whether or not to record a conviction is one which the Courts will consider very carefully, even for first time offenders.
The consequences of a fraud charge and/or conviction may be serious and life-long. A fraud conviction can have a real impact on your ability to find employment, live overseas and obtain certain types of finance.
Jasper Fogerty Lawyers are fraud defence specialists. Julia Jasper has dual qualifications as a chartered accountant and criminal defence lawyer. She has been involved in some of the most complicated and high profile fraud matters in Queensland and nationally, including off-shore tax evasion, medicare fraud, and government corruption investigations. Thanks to Julia, Jasper Fogerty Lawyers is proud to be at the cutting edge of criminal defence when it comes to fraud and white collar crime.