Making False Document (NSW)
In New South Wales, making a false document, otherwise known as ‘forgery’ is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years.
The offence of ‘making false document’ is set out in section 253 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states “a person who makes a false document with the intention that the person or another will use it: (a) to induce some person to accept it as genuine, and (b) because of its being accepted as genuine: (i) to obtain any property belonging to another, or (ii) to obtain any financial advantage or cause any financial disadvantage, or (iii) to influence the exercise of a public duty, is guilty of the offence of forgery.”
What Actions Might Constitute Making a False Document?
What constitutes a ‘false’ document is defined in section 250(1) of the Act. That section provides a list of circumstances in which alterations to or the creation of the document would make the document a false one. In essence, a document is false if the document, or any part of it, purports:
- To be made by a person or with the authority of a person who did not make or authorise the document in that form or on those terms; or
- To have been altered by a person or with the authority of a person who did not alter or authorise the alteration;
- To have been made or altered on a date or a place which it was not made or altered; or
- To have been made or altered by or with the authority of a person who did not exist
Section 251 of the Act sets out the definition of “induce”. Importantly, ‘inducing a person to accept a false document as genuine’ covers circumstances where a document is fed to a machine if the machine responded to the document as if it were genuine.
It is also important to note that the police do not have to prove that you intended to induce a particular person to prove this offence. Rather, it is enough to show that there was intent to induce ‘some’ person, generally.
Examples of conduct that may form the basis for a charge under this section are:
- When one party to a contract, consent orders or parenting orders, signs the document as the other party, so that it appears that both parties have agreed to its terms;
- Forging a signature on a letter of resignation which is subsequently lodged with ASIC. (This occurred in Paycorp Payment Solutions Pty Ltd v Peter Singyin Chai (No 3)  NSW 1632. The effect of this was that the letter contained the resignation of a sole director of a company);
- Forging a signature on a will. (This situation was dealt with in The Estate of Juliana Voros; Cooney & Ors v Cherry  NSWSC 1603)
What must be proven
To convict a person of “making false document” the Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that they:
- Made a false document;
- Did so with the intention that they or another person would induce a person to accept it as genuine; and
- Because of it being accepted as genuine, the person would:
- Obtain any property belonging to another; or
- Obtain a financial advantage or cause a financial disadvantage; or
- Influence the exercise of a public duty.
It is a defence to the charge of making false documents if you can show that:
- None of the documents was false;
- The accused did not have knowledge that the documents were false; or
- No financial advantage was gained or no financial disadvantage was done.
Which court will hear the matter?
This offence is a Table 1 offence. That means that your matter will likely be dealt with in the Local Court. However, either the Prosecutor or the Defendant can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. If they do so, this will give rise to harsher penalties.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.