This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Centrelink fraud penalties


The most common charge in these matters is obtaining a financial advantage from a commonwealth entity, under Section 135.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Commonwealth). This carries a maximum penalty of 12 months jail and/or a fine of 60 penalty units.

However, in some cases the prosecution may decide that the conduct alleged is so serious that the matter should be dealt with in the District Court. In those circumstances the prosecution would usually lay a charge under Section 135.1(1) of the Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 300 penalty units. The matter may be heard and determined in the District Court before a judge and possibly a jury if the matter is defended.

Another less commonly charged offence is making a false statement in a claim for a benefit under Section 136 of the Act.

If you receive a Court Attendance Notice you have been formally charged. You should seek the assistance of solicitor as soon as possible.

Centrelink Fraud Sentencing Statistics

The 3 most common charges that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions proceeds with are:

  • dishonestly obtain a financial advantage (Section 135.2(1) of the Act)
  • dishonestly cause a loss (Section 135.1(5) of the Act)
  • obtain a financial advantage by deception (Section 134.2(1) of the Act)

People prosecuted in the Local Court are most commonly punished with a good behaviour order or community service, while people prosecuted in the District Court are most commonly punished by full-time imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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