FRAUD & FINANCIAL CRIME
Fraud cases make victims of everyone - innocent people most of all
A fraud allegation can feel like a cloud over your life. It can be a shock if the allegation is very different from what really happened. Most people in this situation have no previous convictions. They never expected to be a criminal suspect. They may be naive about how to deal with investigators. That puts them at risk of making mistakes.
After the ordeal of an interview under caution, other worries can kick in: The possibility of a trial, fear of prison or of losing your home and other assets. That's before considering what can happen to your reputation and long-term plans.
There is the worry about family. They are innocent but investigators are usually unsympathetic. Family members can sometimes even become suspects, bringing the whole situation to another level of frustration.
Fraud investigations move very slowly, and it can feel like your life stops until you know what the outcome is. Not knowing how the law and procedure works makes it all more intimidating.
The system is set up against the suspect – it might be uncaring and unfair
People often don't realise straight away that in these cases the system is stacked against an accused person. Assets can be restrained. Records can be seized. Accounts can be frozen. The slow pace of proceedings just makes everything more painful.
Fraud is also often investigated unfairly. Investigators can take a simplistic approach: Whoever was on documents or accounts must be guilty. People can feel they're being targeted just because a business has failed, and they're expected to justify documents and figures, often years later.
A sad aspect of these cases that fraud solicitors see a lot is that people can be prosecuted for the actions of someone else, often when the one who really benefited is nowhere to be seen. In some cases, people at different levels of an organisation often don't know what people at other levels might have been up to. In every large fraud case, there are usually one or two defendants who are only there because they trusted a friend or colleague.
The worst-case scenario isn’t inevitable, and help is available
You don’t have to accept getting dragged into a fraud case as the final outcome. Things can be done to make the situation better.
Having specialist fraud solicitors working for you early on is a step to getting things moving in a better direction.
Experienced lawyers can push investigators for disclosure so that you understand the allegation fully. They can investigate the evidence and look at what has been missed by investigators, especially if it relates to the people who are really responsible.
Then they can try to change the narrative. If you’re not supposed to be in this situation, understanding the evidence is key. An organised team of solicitors will spend time with you so that they can show why your explanations need to be listened to.
Expert fraud lawyers will also assemble a team of barristers and forensic accountants to help present your case.
Our fraud solicitors can help you get back in control - here’s how:
Our fraud lawyers take some of the frustration away by working for you to feel informed, organised and empowered.
It starts with listening to you. We try to understand exactly how this is affecting you, and what you want from the situation. This way our fraud solicitors can support you and tailor the next steps, so you get what you need.
We engage with the investigators, prosecutors and the court. We ask if the case against you even has to continue. If there are weaknesses in the case, our fraud lawyers investigate to expose why the prosecution is wrong.
We request evidence. If it is not provided we demand it. The investigators and the court will be on notice that the time for treating you as collateral damage is over.
We put together a team of experts to fight your case: Top QC barristers, forensic accountants and expert witnesses. By the time of the trial, our fraud solicitors will make you feel that absolutely everything has been done to get the win.
Steps you can take right now to improve your chances of walking away
Contact us and speak to one of our specialist fraud solicitors confidentially – we can meet you in person or on secure encrypted videocall, often the same day.
Don’t despair. If you’re suffering major stress speak to a close family member for support and go to your GP.
Don’t speak to investigators except through lawyers.
Don’t discuss the allegation with colleagues or associates unless you 100% trust them.
Don’t write any emails or other messages about the case.
Save your emails and any texts or business records from the period which is in question.
Be proactive about your case. Read all the statements or evidence which is available to you.
Don’t transfer any assets to anyone else to try to protect them from being seized. It’s illegal and it doesn’t work.
Make sure that any family and friends who could be investigated also speak to us. We can either assist them ourselves or refer them to specialist colleagues.
The charge of “obtaining a benefit by deception” is commonly known as fraud.
Fraud charges can be considered as particularly serious, depending on the extent of the fraud, and how long it went on for.
It is important that you know your rights before going to court.
In dealing with this particular offence your options when going to court are:
Plead not guilty
In order to be convicted of this offence, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
A person by any deception, dishonestly,
obtained property belonging to another person, or
obtained any financial advantage or caused any financial disadvantage.
If the above elements can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:
The Elements of Fraud
For the prosecution to prove that you have committed this offence, they must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you acted dishonestly, and that a benefit or financial advantage was actually obtained.
Often, it can be difficult for the prosecution to prove that you were acting dishonestly, without any admission of guilt by yourself about your intentions.
Did you think that you were entitled to obtain the benefit, and acted honestly in obtaining it?
Did you obtain a benefit, but without dishonesty or deception?
There may be various ways to defend the charge.
Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your prospects of successfully defending any charge brought against you and fight to have you found not guilty of the offence.
If you agree with what the police are alleging against you, the way to get the best result is often to plead guilty as it demonstrates remorse and contrition as well as meaning that you will be entitled to a discount on your sentence. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to a less serious charge.
The offence of Fraud carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment in the Local Court and a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment in the District Court. Fraud is an offence that captures a wide range of conduct. Depending on the seriousness of the offending, it may be possible for the offence to be dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty, and you will have no criminal record.
Generally, penalties that a court can impose for any criminal offence in NSW are:
Section 10 – No conviction recorded
Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
Community service order
Section 12 – Suspended sentence
Intensive correction order
Charged with a criminal offense in NSW? if looking for a law practice that will defend your rights. Contact one of our experienced defence lawyers (Solicitors and Barristers) on (02) 8747 1789 to discuss how we may assist you in achieving a favourable outcome. Republic Lawyers extensively practice in criminal Law and regularly appear at Courts throughout New South Wales.
The above information is intended as general information and is not to be relied on as legal advice.