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In the ACT forgery is made a criminal offence under Section 346 of the Criminal Code 2002. The maximum penalty for forgery is a fine of 1000 penalty units and/or 10 years imprisonment.

What Is Forgery?

Section 346 of the Code defines forgery as making a false document with the intention that either they, or another person will present it to someone who will accept it as genuine, and that because it is accepted by another person, it will cause them to dishonestly obtain a gain, cause a loss or influence a public officer.

A person will be charged under state legislation if the forgery or false documentation involves a local business, organisation or a private individual. If the offence involves a Commonwealth entity such as Centrelink it will be dealt with as a federal forgery offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Forgery?

The following actions would constitute an offence under this section:

  • changing the name on a qualification and presenting it in a job interview;
  • drafting a will purporting to be for someone else and signing their name;
  • changing a will after the will testator has signed it.

What the Police Must Prove

The police must prove:

  • that you created or amended a document;
  • that the document was false;
  • that you intended for the document to be accepted as genuine;
  • that if it was accepted as genuine, it would cause a benefit or loss or influence a public officer.

To be convicted of this offence the prosecution does not need to prove that you made a false document with the intention that another person would accept it as genuine.

Possible Defences for Forgery

A person charged with a forgery offence can use the following defences:

  • that they did not do the acts alleged (factual defence);
  • that there was no loss, benefit or influence on a public officer;
  • that they acted under duress.

What Court Will Hear Your Matter?

The matter may be heard summarily (in the Magistrates Court) or on indictment (in a higher court). If the matter is heard in the Magistrates Court the maximum penalty that can imposed for a single offence is five years imprisonment. If the matter is finalised in the Supreme Court the maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment can be imposed.


The maximum penalty is a fine of 1000 penalty units, 10 years imprisonment or both. Courts can also impose one or more of the following orders:

If you require legal advice about forgery or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Andrew Fraser - Managing Associate - Canberra

This article was written by Andrew Fraser - Managing Associate - Canberra

Andrew works in the areas of criminal law and traffic law, providing practical advice in all of his clients’ matters. Andrew has, over many years, developed positive working relationships with prosecutors, magistrates and judges. His no-nonsense approach means he has a reputation for putting forward the best case possible for clients. Andrew has won many matters for his clients, including...

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