In NSW, making a False Accusation carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment. Prosecution under this section is usually the result of a false accusation that leads to a significant police investigation (or a diversion of a police investigation to another person).
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 False Accusation:
The offence of False Accusations is contained in section 314 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states: A person who makes an accusation intending a person to be the subject of an investigation of an offence, knowing that other person to be innocent of the offence, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
What Actions Might Constitute “False Accusation”?
- A vindictive former partner making false allegations to police of domestic violence;
- False stalking/harassment claims made by unhappy neighbours in an attempt to have the victim vacate their residence;
- Making a false statement to the police about who was the perpetrator of an assault in order to provide a cover story to the real perpetrator.
- Making sexual assault allegations in order to avoid embarrassment, gain attention, or ‘get back’ at a previous partner.
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of making a False Accusation, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you made an accusation; and
- You intended the victim to be the subject of an investigation for an offence; and
- You knew that the victim was innocent of that offence.
Possible Defences for False Accusations:
You could defend a false accusation charge by arguing:
- that you had no intention of making someone the subject of an investigation (even if you knew the accusation wasn’t true);
- that you believed the accusation you made to was true;
- that you didn’t in fact make the accusation that was alleged.
You could also raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Making a False Accusation is a Table 1 offence and is to be dealt with by the Local Court, unless you or the prosecution elect for the matter to be heard in the District Court on indictment. The summary disposal of these offences in the Local Court carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.
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.
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.