Possession of False Document
In NSW, possession of a false document is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for ten (10) years. In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:-
- Prison Sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Suspended Sentence
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
- Good Behaviour Bond
- Section 10A
- Conditional Release Order (CRO)
- Section 10
The Offence of Possessing False Document:
Section 255 of the Crimes Act 1900 states: a person who has in his or her possession a false document, knowing that it is false, 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 an offence.
What Actions Might Constitute Possessing 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.
You can possess something even if it is not physically with you. Legally, you possess something if you have knowingly left it with another person, or at a location (whether or not you occupy that place) for your use or the use of another person.
Those most common offences charged under this section are where people are found to possess credit cards, licenses or other forms of identification in another name, or in multiple names.
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of “possessing false document” the Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:-
- Possessed a false document;
- You did so with the intention that you or another person would induce a person to accept it as genuine; and
- Because of it being accepted as genuine, you 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.
Possible Defences to Possessing a False Document:
It is a defence to the charge of possessing false documents if you can show:-
- None of the documents were false;
- You 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 Your 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.
Types of Penalties:
Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. the court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. a suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. the court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. the maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): a CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): a CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.