Perjury Offences in the ACT

Perjury in the ACT

  1. Perjury is an offence under section 703 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT).
  2. This offence is indicatable, meaning it can be dealt with in either the ACT Magistrates Court or Supreme Court. However, the offence of aggravated perjury is strictly indictable, meaning it must be finalised in the Supreme Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for perjury is a fine of $112,000.00, 7 years imprisonment or both. The maximum penalty for aggravated perjury is a fine of $224,000.00, 14 years imprisonment or both.
  4. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. A conviction will likely be recorded, and you will likely be sentenced to imprisonment.

If you have been charged with perjury, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You made a sworn statement
  2. The statement was made in the context of a legal proceeding
  3. The statement is false
  4. You intentionally made a false statement or were reckless about whether the statement is false

Your lawyer may contest perjury charges by challenging whether the statement was sworn, examining its context within a legal proceeding, disputing its alleged falsity, and arguing against intent or recklessness. By casting doubt on these elements, your lawyer aims to undermine the prosecution’s case and secure a favourable outcome for you.

What constitutes a legal proceeding?

Section 701 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) defines legal proceedings as:

  • a proceeding in which evidence may be taken on oath; or
  • a proceeding in which judicial power is exercised; or
  • a proceeding or anything else that a law declares to be a legal proceeding

What is a sworn statement?

Section 700 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) defines a sworn statement as any “statement made or verified on oath”. The section also defines a statement as “a statement made orally, in a document or in any other way”.

What is a false statement?

A false statement is one that is untrue, and the declarant (you) knew that it was untrue when it was made. Your legal team can explain this further.

What does ‘recklessness’ mean?

Being ‘reckless as to whether the statement is false’ means that you appreciated the real risk the statement was false but made the statement regardless. This is a question for the jury, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances and any corroborating evidence.

What is aggravated perjury?

The offence of perjury will be deemed aggravated under section 702 when the false statement given by the person in the context of a legal proceeding is given with the additional intention of procuring the person’s or someone else’s conviction for, or acquittal of, an offence and the relevant offence is punishable by imprisonment. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $224,000.00, 14 years imprisonment or both.

In the instance of aggravated perjury, a lawyer plays a critical role in providing legal counsel and representation to ensure the accused receives a fair trial, defends against the allegations, and mitigates potential consequences.

What are possible defences for perjury in the ACT?

  • You may deny that the statement you made under oath was false
  • You may agree that you made a statement that was as a matter of fact false, but you may not have known or been reckless as to whether the statement was false or you may deny that the statement was made under oath

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to perjury?

Whether you should plead guilty or not guilty will depend on a number of factors, including whether you accept that you knowingly made a false statement under oath.

You may accept that you made a false statement under oath, but your lawyer may be able to persuade the prosecutor to accept a plea of guilty to a less serious charge.

Alternatively, you may accept that you committed the offence but disagree with part or all of what the police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

Q. If I plead guilty or am found guilty, will a criminal conviction be recorded?

It is almost inevitable that the court will record a criminal conviction if found guilty. The type of sentence you receive beyond this will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

If you are facing charges and are uncertain about the potential outcomes or need legal advice, it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer.

Q. What does it mean to have a conviction recorded? 

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, in relation to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q. Will I go to gaol for perjury?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, it is likely that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty.  The length of the sentence or whether any alternative to imprisonment is available will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to minimise the risk of you going to gaol, or to persuade the court to reduce the length of the gaol sentence.

Making a False Accusation

Engage a lawyer as soon as possible if you’re facing charges of making a false accusation.

  1. Making a false accusation is an offence under section 715 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT).
  2. This offence is indictable, meaning it can be dealt with in either the ACT Magistrates Court or Supreme Court
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $80,000.00, imprisonment for 5 years or both. If the offence is committed by a law enforcement officer who charges someone with an offence knowing that they did not commit the offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $160,000.00, imprisonment for 10 years or both.
  4. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. It is almost inevitable that a conviction will be recorded, and there is a real risk that a sentence of imprisonment will be imposed.

If you have been charged with making a false accusation, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You made an accusation to a law enforcement officer that someone else had committed an offence.
  2. You knew or believed that the accusation was false and that the other person did not commit the offence.
  3. You intended that the other person would be charged with committing the offence or law enforcement would be deflected from prosecuting the true offender.

Who is a law enforcement officer?

Section 700 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) defines ‘law enforcement officer’ as any of the following:

  • a police officer
  • a member of the police service or force of a State, another Territory, or a foreign country
  • a person exercising a law enforcement function for the Department of Home Affairs (Cwlth) or the Australian Crime Commission
  • the Attorney-General for the Territory, the Commonwealth, a State, or another Territory
  • the director of public prosecutions, or a person performing a similar function under a law of the Commonwealth, a State, or another Territory
  • a person employed in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, or a similar entity established under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or another Territory
  • any other person responsible for the investigation or prosecution of offences against a territory law, or a law of the Commonwealth, a State, or another Territory
  • a lawyer to the extent that the lawyer is engaged to prosecute offences against a territory law, or a law of the Commonwealth, a State or another Territory

What is an accusation?

An accusation is a claim that another person has engaged in illegal or wrongful conduct. Reporting a person to the police for committing an offence is also an accusation.

How does the court determine whether I acted intentionally?

For an act to have been intentional, you need to have made the decision to bring about an act of a particular kind or particular result. This is a question for the jury, judge or magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances including what you did and said.

What does ‘intending that the other person would be charged with committing an offence’ mean?

This means that at the time of making the accusation against the victim, you knew or were aware that it was likely that the victim would be investigated by law enforcement on the basis of your accusation and made the accusation with the intent of making this occur. Whilst it is not always the case and is not a necessary element, this intention will typically involve some form of malice.

What does ‘intending to deflect from prosecuting the true offender’ mean?

This means that when you made the accusation against the victim, you intended to mislead police to obfuscate or hide the true identity of the offender and lead law enforcement ‘off the trail’. These accusations are typically made to protect oneself or someone else and attempt to deflect the blame, attention, and scope of investigation away from the true offender.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to a false accusation charge?

Whether you should plead guilty or not guilty will depend on a number of factors, including whether you accept that you knowingly made a false accusation.

You may accept that you made a false accusation, but your lawyer may be able to persuade the prosecutor to accept a plea of guilty to a less serious charge.

Alternatively, you may accept that you committed the offence but disagree with part or all of whatthe prosecutor says happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

Q. If I plead guilty or am found guilty, will a conviction be recorded?

If found guilty, it is very likely that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q. What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, in relation to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q. Will I go to gaol for making false accusations?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, there is a real risk of going to jail if you plead guilty or are found guilty. The maximum penalty for false accusations is 5 years imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment for law enforcement officers. However, the type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history, and many other factors.

It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to minimise the risk of you going to gaol, or to persuade the court to reduce the length of the gaol sentence.

Perverting the Course of Justice in the ACT

  1. Intentionally perverting the course of justice is an offence under section 713 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT).
  2. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7 years and/or a fine of $112,000.00.
  3. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. A conviction is very likely to be recorded, and there is a real risk of being sentenced to imprisonment.

For you to be found guilty of an offence of perverting the course of justice the police must prove:

  1. You intentionally perverted the course of justice;
  2. Through your conduct.

Your lawyer will advocate against the charges of perverting the course of justice by scrutinising the evidence presented by the prosecution, challenging the intent and conduct elements of the offence, and presenting a robust defence strategy to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to perverting the course of justice?

Whether you should plead guilty or not guilty will depend on a number of factors, including whether you accept that you perverted the course of justice.

You may accept that you perverted the course of justice, but your lawyer may be able to persuade the prosecutor to accept a plea of guilty to a less serious charge.

Alternatively, you may accept that you committed the offence but disagree with part or all of what the prosecution says happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

What defences might be available to a charge of perverting the court of justice?

If you are facing a charge of perverting the court of justice, several potential defences could apply:

  • Lack of Intent: You may argue that you did not have the relevant intent to pervert the course of justice, meaning there was no deliberate intention to obstruct justice.
  • Necessity: You may claim that you acted out of necessity when perverting the course of justice, perhaps to prevent greater harm or danger.
  • Duress: You may assert that you were acting under duress, meaning you were compelled or forced to pervert the course of justice against your will.

If you’re confronting allegations of perverting the court of justice, it’s crucial to seek legal assistance promptly. Contact us for a consultation to discuss your case and explore your available defences.

Q. What is perverting the course of justice?

Under section 713 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT), the term perverts includes obstructing, preventing and/or defeating. This charge is made out when a person intentionally undertakes conduct to prevent information from being administered in court. Examples of perverting the course of justice include:

  • False accusations
  • Hindering investigations
  • Threatening or intimidating witnesses
  • Concealing offences
  • Tampering with evidence

Q. Will I go to gaol for perverting the course of justice?

If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, of perverting the course of justice there is a real risk you will be sentenced to imprisonment.  However, the type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to minimise the risk of you going to gaol, or to persuade the court to reduce the length of the gaol sentence.

Why Choose Hugo Law Group to Defend You

Hugo Law Group is a law firm that is focused on protecting and defending your rights. Drawing on decades of experience, our team of criminal lawyers will guide you through the legal process, providing comprehensive, honest and strategic advice – qualities that give us our renowned reputation.

Whether you want to plead not guilty, you are looking to secure the best possible sentence, or a loved one wants to apply for bail, it is essential to have an experienced team of criminal defence lawyers in your corner.

Seeking comprehensive and practical advice at an early stage will best ensure your rights and interests are protected. Our lawyers will properly prepare and present your case to assist you in getting the best possible outcome.

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At Hugo Law Group, we will clearly explain what your rights and obligations are so that you can make informed decisions about how to deal with the police and the court process.

Even if you have not yet been charged with a criminal offence, you should seek advice from a lawyer at an early stage to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Hugo Law Group is the market leader in criminal defence law, providing exceptional representation to people facing serious criminal charges.

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Get in contact with us today or feel free to call us at 02 9696 1361 (Sydney), 02 5104 9640 (Canberra), or 08 6255 6909 (Perth) and find out how we can help you.