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Is Forgery a Criminal Offence In NSW?

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Forgery is a serious criminal offence in  NSW that encompasses a range of activities involving the creation, alteration, or replication of documents with the intention or objects to deceive or defraud. In New South Wales, like in many jurisdictions around the world, forgery carries severe penalties.

Meaning of Forgery

Forgery involves the creation, alteration, or replication of a document, object, or financial instrument with the intent to deceive or defraud. Common examples of forged items include signatures, legal documents, banknotes, and various types of identification. The act of forgery can be committed through various means, such as handwriting imitation, digital manipulation, or producing counterfeit items.


Forgery is taken very seriously by Police in Australia and the legal system, as it undermines the trust and integrity of important documents and financial systems. The severity of penalties for forgery varies depending on factors such as the jurisdiction, the value or significance of the forged item, and the intent of the perpetrator.

In New South Wales, forgery is a criminal offence under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Section 253 of the Act specifically addresses forgery and related offences. According to this legislation, a person who makes a false document, knowing it to be false and with the intent to use it to induce another person to accept it as genuine, is guilty of forgery.


The penalties for forgery in NSW can range from fines to lengthy imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence and the value of the forged item. For more serious cases, especially those involving large sums of money or crucial documents, the courts may impose substantial prison sentences.


As per Section 250 of the Crimes Act, a false document is defined as one that falsely claims to have been:


  • Created or modified by an individual who did not create it.
  • Produced with the authorisation of someone who did not grant such authority.
  • Made on a date or in a location where it was not actually created.
  • Stated in terms that do not align with its actual creation.

If discovered in possession of a false document, or in possession of tools or apparatus intended for the production of false documents, one could potentially be subject to a maximum penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.


Criminal forgery typically involves the creation or alteration of documents that have legal or financial implications. This can include forging contracts, wills, deeds, or any other document that could result in financial gain or legal advantage for the perpetrator. Criminal forgery is often associated with fraudulent activity, as the intent behind the act is to deceive others for personal benefit.


In NSW, criminal forgery is a serious criminal offence, and those convicted may face significant penalties, including imprisonment. The severity of the penalties will often depend on the value or significance of the forged document, as well as the prior criminal record of the offender.


Credit Card Forgery 


Credit card forgery is a specific type of forgery that involves the creation or use of fake or altered credit cards for unauthorised financial transactions. This can include activities such as cloning credit card information onto a fake card or altering an existing card’s details.


Credit card forgery is a widespread form of financial fraud that can have serious consequences for both individuals and financial institutions. In NSW, credit card forgery is treated as a criminal offence, and those found guilty can face substantial penalties, including imprisonment.

Elements of Forgery Commonwealth Offences

To be convicted of the Commonwealth offence of forgery under various sections, the prosecution must establish the following elements:


If facing a charge under s144.1(1):


  • You created a deceptive document; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully influence a third party, in their capacity as a Commonwealth public official, into accepting it as genuine; and
  • It was indeed accepted as genuine; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully acquire a benefit or cause a loss, or manipulate the execution of a public function.

If charged under s144.1(3):


  • You produced a deceptive document; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully induce a computer to recognize it as authentic; and
  • The computer acknowledged it as authentic; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully gain a benefit, or cause a loss, or influence the execution of a public function; and
  • The computer’s response pertained to the operations of a Commonwealth entity.

If charged under s144.1(5):


  • You created a deceptive document; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully persuade a third party into accepting it as genuine; and
  • It was indeed accepted as genuine; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully acquire a benefit, cause a loss, or influence the execution of a public function; and
  • The deceptive document is a false Commonwealth document.

If charged under s144.1(7):


  • You created a deceptive document; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully prompt a computer to recognise it as authentic; and
  • The computer acknowledged it as authentic; and
  • You did so with the intention to deceitfully gain a benefit, cause a loss, or influence the execution of a public function; and
  • The deceptive document is a false Commonwealth document.

If the police cannot substantiate each element of your charge beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be deemed not guilty, and your forgery charge will be dismissed in court.

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Defences Against Forgery Charges

In cases of forgery, there may be potential legal defences that a person accused of the offence can employ. These can include lack of intent to deceive, mistaken identity, or a lack of evidence proving the forged item was intended to be used fraudulently.


It is essential to consult with a leading criminal defence lawyer if facing forgery charges, as they will be able to provide advice specific to the individual circumstances of the case.


Forgery is a serious criminal offence in New South Wales, encompassing a wide range of activities involving the creation, alteration, or replication of documents or objects with the intent to deceive or defraud. Criminal forgery and credit card forgery are specific categories that carry their own set of penalties and legal implications.


Understanding the gravity of forgery charges is crucial for individuals and businesses alike. It is essential to be aware of the legal consequences associated with forgery and to seek legal advice if facing any allegations or charges related to this offence. The legal system takes forgery seriously in order to maintain the integrity and trustworthiness of important documents and financial transactions.


If you have been charged with a forgery offence in NSW and require legal advice, contact our criminal lawyers in Parramatta. We offer a free first phone call conference for up to 15 minutes.

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