This article provides an overview of the offence of false accounting in Victoria, the process of laying charges, the court process, the types of penalties that may be imposed, and the consequences of being found guilty.
False accounting is a serious criminal offence in Victoria, falling under the category of fraud offences. This offence involves deliberately falsifying, concealing, or destroying accounting records with the intention of obtaining a financial advantage or causing financial disadvantage to another person.
False Accounting Offences
Under Section 83 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), a person is guilty of false accounting if they:
- Falsify any account or any record or document made or required for any accounting purpose, or
- In furnishing information for any purpose, produce or make use of any account, or any such record or document as aforesaid, which to their knowledge is or may be misleading, false, or deceptive in a material particular, with the intention to gain an advantage for themselves or another person or to cause a loss to another person.
How Charges are Laid
Charges for false accounting are typically laid by the police. The police will investigate the incident, gather evidence, and interview the accused and any witnesses. If there is sufficient evidence to support the elements of the offence, the police will lay charges and issue a charge sheet to the accused. This charge sheet will outline the details of the offence and specify the date on which the accused is required to appear in court.
Court Process – False Accounting Offences
The court process for false accounting offences in Victoria involves several stages:
- First Appearance: The accused will attend court for the first time, where the charges will be explained, and the accused will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
- Committal Hearing: If the accused pleads not guilty, a committal hearing may be held in the Magistrates’ Court to determine whether there is enough evidence to support a trial.
- Trial: If the case proceeds to trial, it will typically be heard in the County Court or the Supreme Court of Victoria. The prosecution and defence will present their evidence, and a jury will determine whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.
- Sentencing: If the accused is found guilty, the court will impose a sentence, which may include imprisonment, a fine, or other penalties.
Penalties – False Accounting Offences
The maximum penalty for false accounting in Victoria is 10 years imprisonment. However, the actual penalty imposed will depend on various factors, including the amount of financial advantage gained or financial disadvantage caused, the circumstances surrounding the offence, and the offender’s criminal history.
Consequences of Being Found Guilty
Being found guilty of false accounting can have serious consequences beyond the immediate penalties imposed by the court. These may include:
- Criminal Record: A conviction for false accounting will result in a permanent criminal record, which can affect your ability to obtain employment, travel overseas, and apply for certain licenses or registrations.
- Impact on Relationships: A conviction for false accounting can have a significant impact on your relationships with family and friends.
- Financial Consequences: A conviction for false accounting may result in significant financial consequences, including the payment of fines, compensation to the victim, and legal costs.
- Loss of Freedom: A sentence of imprisonment will result in a loss of freedom and may have a significant impact on your personal and professional life.
False accounting is a serious offence in Victoria, carrying significant penalties and consequences for those found guilty. It involves deliberately falsifying, concealing, or destroying accounting records with the intention of obtaining a financial advantage or causing financial disadvantage to another person. The court process can be complex and lengthy, and if you are charged with a false accounting offence, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice from a qualified professional to understand your rights and options.