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    Centrelink Fraud

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      Best Centrelink Fraud Lawyers

      Our specialist Centrelink fraud lawyers have an outstanding track record of fighting fraud charges and helping our clients avoid jail time. See our recent results for centrelink fraud.

      Obtaining financial advantage with deception is a serious offence generally, and in particular when it is committed against Centrelink. It often results in a prison sentence, even if it is a person’s first offence.

      Contact us now to speak to our Law Society accredited specialist in criminal law. We can provide you advice on the best way to prepare your case.



        What is Centrelink Fraud?

        Broadly speaking, Centrelink fraud is defined as obtaining a financial advantage from Centrelink which you were not entitled to.


        How Do You Beat a Centrelink Fraud Charge?

        You can fight a Centrelink Fraud charge in two ways. Firstly, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

        Centrelink fraud with deception and dishonesty, s. 134.2 Criminal Code Act

        1. Your actions involved a deception;
        2. This deception led to you receiving a financial advantage
        3. The financial advantage was from Centrelink (or other commonwealth body)


        Centrelink fraud without deception, s. 135.2 Criminal Code Act:

        1. Your actions resulted in you receiving a financial advantage
        2. You knew you had no entitlement to the financial advantage
        3. The financial advantage from Centrelink (or other commonwealth body)


        Making a False Claim for Benefit (General Dishonesty):

        1. You obtained a gain from or caused a loss to Centrelink;
        2. You intended to obtain the gain or cause the loss;
        3. Your actions were responsible for the gain or loss (causation);
        4. Those actions were dishonest


        If any of these elements are not made out, then you can be found ‘not guilty’.

        Secondly, you can rely on one of the defences.


        What Are the Defences to Centrelink Fraud?

        You can be found ‘not guilty’ of Centrelink fraud if:

        1. Duress: You were forced to commit the offence
        2. Necessity: Your actions were necessary in the circumstances
        3. Honest and reasonable mistake: You held a genuine belief that you were entitled to the financial advantage and it was reasonable for you to hold that belief
        4. If charged with ‘Centrelink fraud with deception and dishonesty’, the Crown cannot prove there was a deception. You can also have a defence if the Crown cannot prove who was deceived. You may also have a defence if the prosecution cannot prove that the deception was causative of you receiving the financial advantage.
        5. If there was no financial advantage received or disadvantage caused, then you may have a defence.


        To see if you have a defence open to you, contact us now to speak to one of Australia’s best criminal lawyers for centrelink fraud charges.


        Our guide on pleading guilty to Fraud offences will provide you some assistance in preparing for sentencing. Please note that this guide is a non-exhaustive list and not specifically tailored to your case.

        Contact us now so that our accredited specialist for Centrelink fraud charges can provide you advice tailored to your case and represent you in Court.


        What is the Penalty for Centrelink Fraud?

        The maximum penalty for obtaining property or financial advantage without deception is 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $6,600.

        The maximum penalty for obtaining property or financial advantage with deception is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $33,000.

        The maximum penalty for Making a False Claim for Benefit (General Dishonesty) is 10 years imprisonment.


        What Are the Possible Sentences for Centrelink Fraud?

        Below is a list of possible sentencing options for Centrelink Fraud charges:

        1. Section 19B non conviction
        2. Fine
        3. Section 20 Conditional Release (with conviction)
        4. Community Correction Order
        5. Recognizance Release Order (suspended sentence)
        6. Intensive Corrections Order
        7. Full Time Imprisonment

        Will You Go to Jail for Centrelink Fraud?

        Below are statistics for Centrelink fraud offences for the last 5 years:

        1. Section 19B non conviction: 7.2%
        2. Fine: 23.2%
        3. Section 20 Conditional Release (with conviction): 17.9%
        4. Community Service Order: 8.9%
        5. Recognizance Release Order (suspended sentence): 8.9%
        6. Intensive Corrections Order: 5.4%
        7. Home Detention (no longer used in NSW): 3.6%
        8. Full Time Imprisonment: 25%


        As you can see, a gaol sentence is a very real possibility. When the amount of money defrauded is large (eg. more than $20,000) and over a lengthy period of time (eg. over one year), there is a strong likelihood of a jail sentence being imposed.

        That is why it is important to obtain advice from a specialist Centrelink fraud solicitor early on so that we can determine if there are any defences open to you or prepare your case to obtain the most lenient sentence.


      If I pay back the money can I still be charged?

      Yes. Once the offence is committed you can be charged. Repayment of the money or engaging with Centrelink to commence a repayment plan will not guarantee that you will not be charged.

      Generally, Centrelink refers any instances of fraud to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

      The CDPP then makes a decision on whether to commence criminal proceedings. This is usually a lengthy process. It is not uncommon for people to be charged more than 12 months after the Centrelink fraud has been discovered.

      Repayment will however be a strong factor in reducing the ultimate penalty you will receive.

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