Fraud Lawyers in Sydney NSW: What to do if Charged
Fraud charges and the white collar crime investigation that follows present a huge challenge to defendants facing this charges. Parts of the process that are often simple, such as obtaining bail, may be more difficult for those accused because of the nature of the offence.
Fraud lawyers Sydney are here to help you make sense of the charges you face and stand with you at every step of the proceedings. “Fraud” is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of different activities, and depending on the facts of your case, your attorney will be able to explain to you the potential penalties.
What is Fraud?
Fraud describes an action in which a person uses dishonesty to obtain someone else’s property, get a financial advantage for themselves, or put someone else at a financial disadvantage. Though there are three general types, which will be discussed below, in the Australian legal system, many charges fall under the general fraud law.
When you have been charged with fraud, it’s important that you have a professional defense team that is ready to assist you. It’s important for your case that you contact a fraud lawyer in Sydney quickly, so we can help you defend your rights immediately.
A charge is not a conviction of guilt. In order to be found guilty, the court will need to show that your behavior demonstrated five different elements.
- Providing a false statement of the fact
- Having knowledge of the truth and withholding it
- Purposefully intending to deceive
- Reliance on the false statement
- Damaging the victim
If the court is unable to provide evidence that you have performed all of these elements, you will not be convicted of fraud. Intent is often the hardest part to prove.
What are the types of fraud and their associated penalties?
Not all fraud charges carry the same penalties. Australian law divides fraud into three large categories: general fraud, identity theft, and forgery. You can read more about them under the crimes act.
As mentioned before, a large number of fraud offences fall under the general umbrella. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Tax evasion (tax fraud)
- Insurance fraud
- Mail fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Security fraud
- Wire fraud
The maximum penalty for general fraud is 10 years in prison, which can apply to conduct that clearly shows dishonesty in acquiring someone else’s property or a financial advantage over others. However, lesser charges related to intention to commit fraud – by destroying records or making misleading statements – carry a maximum penalty of five years.
If you are caught dealing with someone else’s identification information with the intent to commit fraud, you may be facing up to 10 years of imprisonment. Even possessing such information carries a maximum sentence of seven years, though the courts must prove that you intended to use it for fraudulent purposes.
If you have not engaged in deception but possess the means to make false identification documents and show the intent to use them, you can also be charged with identity theft and given a maximum sentence of three years.
Forgery refers to the creation, possession, or use of false documents, and Australian law takes this crime particularly seriously. All three of those actions, plus the possession of equipment to make false documents, carry a maximum sentence of imprisonment for 10 years.
Experienced fraud lawyers in Sydney will be able to address all three types. No matter the specifics of your charges, these litigators will have your back, protecting your rights and ensuring you the best representation possible.
How serious is the fraud offence?
The penalties listed above are the maximum for each type of offense. Often, these cases will involve some mitigating factors that might dictate a lesser sentence. Magistrates judge the seriousness of an individual case by asking these five questions.
How much money was involved?
The court considers an incident of fraud that involved a lot of money to be a more serious crime, since this shows the defendant’s willingness to break the law on a larger scale.
Over what length of time were the offences committed?
The duration of the offence speaks to the amount of planning or cover-up involved. In general, the law takes carefully-planned crimes more seriously than impulsive ones because they show greater criminal intent.
What was the motive for the offence?
If the motive was simply greed, the court will take that into account. However, if there were mitigating factors – for example, if the defendant obtained money by fraudulent means in order to pay a family member’s medical bills – the court will also consider this motive during sentencing.
How sophisticated planning involved in the offence?
Just like length of time, complexity of the offences speaks to intent. If the incidence of fraud required a great deal of organization and effort, the sentence will most likely be harsher.
Was there an accompanying breach of trust?
Fraud not only involves theft, but active dishonesty, as well. If the defendant and the victim had a relationship that implied trust – such as that between an employer and an employee – the court will view this as a more serious crime.
As you can see, fraud that involved lots of money or money laundering over a long time span, or well-organized fraud that took advantage of a relationship of trust will generally invoke more severe sentences.
Corporate and International Fraud
When corporations get involved in fraud, the factors of intent and complexity quickly become difficult to parse. When this crosses international boundaries, the investigation becomes even more intricate. During this type of white collar crime investigation, it’s especially important that the defendants obtain legal counsel to prevent their rights from being trampled on.
These types of fraud can include but are not limited to:
- Money laundering
- Insider trading
- Domestic or foreign bribery
- Tax evasion and related offences.
If you are facing charges of any type, contact the best fraud lawyers in Sydney at RHA Law. Our experienced law firm will guide you through the process and advise you of the most advantageous steps to take. Let us help you with your case.