Providing False or Misleading Information in New South Wales, is it a Crime?
Providing False or Misleading Information in New South Wales, is it a Crime?
In New South Wales (NSW), it is an offence to provide false or misleading information under any circumstances. It is a serious offence under section 307B of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 200 penalty units and/or imprisonment for 2 years.
In order to establish this particular offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- The information was given to another person.
- The information was somehow false or misleading, or omitted a matter without which it was clearly misleading.
- The person already knew the information was misleading.
- The particular information was given to a public authority or to a person exercising or performing a power, authority, duty, or function in connection with any NSW law or was given in compliance with any NSW law.
A piece of information can only be considered to be ‘misleading’ if it is false or misleading in any material particular. However, one cannot be found guilty of the offence if they are able to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that the particular information was given to a public authority or to a person exercising a power, authority, duty, or function under an NSW law and before even the information was given, the public authority or person describe failed to take necessary steps to inform one that giving false or misleading information is an offence. Duress is a defence to the charge.
In NSW, the court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Home Detention
- Suspended Sentence
- Good Behavior Bond
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
- Section 10
- Section 10A
- Conditional Release Order (CRO)
If you are visiting the court for False or Misleading Information, contact a criminal lawyer at Lyons Law Group.
The Legislation on Providing False or Misleading Information In NSW
As mentioned above, in NSW, it is an offence to provide false or misleading information under any circumstances. This offence carries a max penalty of 2-year imprisonment and/or $22,000 fine under section 307B Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) or maybe both.
- An individual is found to be guilty of the offence if he/she does so, knowing that the information is misleading in a material particular.
- An individual is not guilty of the offence if the provided information is not false or misleading in a material particular
- An individual is not guilty if the person doing so provided the information that did not omit any matter or thing without which the information is only misleading in a material particular.
- A person is not guilty of the offence if before the information was given by that person to the public authority and the public authority did not take reasonable steps to inform the person of the existence of the offence.
- A person is not guilty of the offence if the information was given from one person to another and the other person did not take any reasonable steps to inform the first person of the existence of the offence.
- The whole burden of establishing a matter referred to the above (2), (3), (4) or (5) lies on the accused person.
Nevertheless, giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. A person will be guilty of this offence if he/she knowingly and willingly provides false or misleading information, or even if he/she knowingly omits information that causes it to be misleading information to:
- A public authority
- A person who is exercising or performing a power, authority, duty or a function under a law of the state
- In compliance or purported complaint with a law of NSW.
What Type of Actions Might Constitute Providing False or Misleading Information?
A few of the examples under this section are:
- In 2019, Sarah Roger, girlfriend of sacked Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg: In this case, Sarah pleaded guilty to providing misleading information to investigators over an advice Mr Quaedvlieg had given her in the year, 2017 to help her secure a job within his apartment at the Sydney Airport. After a long, detailed investigation by a criminal lawyer, it was thus clear that Ms Rogers had given false evidence. Afterwards, Ms Rogers was sentenced to Community Service for lying about her relationship and providing false evidence.
- R V Imo Sagoa (2014) NSWDC 44: The defendant, in this case, was charged with two counts under this section in relation to allegedly false information he gave to the police officer in two different interviews during the course of a murder investigation All of these offences were ultimately withdrawn and replaced with a single charge of just hindering the police.
- In APV and APW v department of family and community services (2015) NSWCATAD 140: The offence under this particular section was alluded to though not considered. In this case, the facts related to two individuals providing first and last names but not their middle names, to the Housing NSW and their later stubbornness to not provide verification documents and photographic identification documents verifying their names for the purpose of preparing lease documents.
- In Penza and DiMaria (2010) NSWSC 16: In this case, one of the defendants was charged with an offence under this section for entering Australia under a false name.
What The Police Must Prove?
In order to find a person guilty of an offence of providing false or misleading information, the Police or the investigator must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a person:
- Gave any particular information to another person
- Knowing that the information was either:
o False or misleading
o Omitted any matter or thing without which their statement is misleading
- Additionally, the information given by him/her was either:
o to a public authority.
o to a person who is exercising or performing any power, authority, duty or function under, or in connection with a law of the NSW.
o in compliance or purported compliance with a law of the state.
Possible Defences to Providing False or Misleading Information
An individual who is accused of providing false or misleading information cannot be considered guilty if:
- The provided information is not misleading or false;
- The accused person acted under any necessity or duress (an act of using force, threats, or psychological pressure to get someone to act against their wishes). When a person is acting under duress, they are not acting of their own free will and so maybe treated accordingly in court proceedings.
- It’s alleged that the information was given to a public authority. In such a case, the accused person will not be guilty as the public authority didn’t take any reasonable steps to inform the accused person of the existence of this offence before he/she gave the information to them.
- It’s alleged that the information was given to a person who was exercising or performing a power, authority, duty or function under the NSW law. In such a case, the accused person will not be guilty if the second person failed to take reasonable steps to inform the accused person of the existence of this offence before the particular information was given.
All of the above are a defence to the charge of providing false or misleading information if one can provide proof of it.
Moreover, providing false or misleading information to others where any financial gain is obtained or a financial loss is caused can lead to serious consequences. This may result in a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment under section 135.1 (1) or (3) and/or 135.1 (5) Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty in this offence is 10-years in prison for obtaining a financial advantage with dishonesty and deception under section 134.2 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). This one offence is also known as Centrelink fraud in Australia.