Forgery30 July 2023 in Criminal Law
What is Forgery in NSW?
Forgery is a serious offence under NSW law that can have severe consequences for individuals and businesses. It is defined under Section 253 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as the creation of a false document or the alteration of an existing document with the intent to deceive or defraud. A document can be any piece of paper or electronic data that can be used to prove or disprove a fact.
Forgery can take many forms, including creating false identification documents, forging signatures on cheques or contracts, altering financial documents such as invoices or receipts and creating counterfeit currency or other valuable items. The intent to deceive or defraud is the key element of forgery, and it is this intent that makes it a crime.
The NSW Police have a dedicated unit that investigates and prosecutes cases of forgery. This unit, known as the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, is responsible for investigating a wide range of fraud-related offences. The police will conduct an investigation, which may include obtaining statements from witnesses, reviewing documents and analysing any forensic evidence.
Forgery is categorised as a table offence in NSW, which implies that the matter will usually be heard at a Local Court unless either you or the prosecution elect otherwise. If an election is made, the case will be heard in the District Court.
To be convicted of forgery under section 253 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the prosecution must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused committed the crime. This involves proving that the accused created a false document with the intention of inducing another person to use it, and that the accused caused financial gain or loss to another person or influenced the exercise of a public duty by doing so.
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Penalties for Forgery
The punishment for forgery in NSW varies depending on the seriousness of the offence. If the forged document is a public document, such as a passport or driver’s licence, the offence is considered more serious, and the penalties are more severe. A person convicted of forging a public document can face up to 14 years imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for forging a private document is 10 years imprisonment.
In addition to imprisonment, a person convicted of forgery may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim or victims of the crime. The court may also order the forfeiture of any property or assets obtained as a result of the forgery.
In some cases, a person convicted of forgery may be eligible for an alternative to imprisonment, such as community service or probation. The court may also order the forfeiture of any property or assets obtained as a result of the forgery.
It is important to note that alternative sentencing options are not available in all cases and depend on the severity of the offence, the criminal history of the offender, and other factors.
Defences for Forgery
If you have been charged with forgery, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer. Possible defences for forgery include:
Duress is a legal term that refers to situations where an individual has been coerced through unlawful means into committing a criminal act that they would not have done otherwise. The presence of threats or coercion is a key element in establishing duress.
The defence of necessity can be used when an accused person was faced with imminent danger caused by either natural or human forces. A defence lawyer will aim to demonstrate that the accused person only took the criminal action to avoid “irreparable evil” consequences. Additionally, it must be shown that the accused person was in imminent peril and had no other alternatives to avoid the impending threat.
Burden of Proof
The defence may also simply require the prosecution to satisfy its burden of proof. If for any reason the prosecution is unable to produce evidence sufficient to satisfy the burden of proof, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, of each and every element of the offence, the defence will be succesful.
How can BSM help?
If you have been charged with forgery, it is important to seek legal advice. The experienced criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight can help you build a strong defence and protect your rights.