Case facts

The client was charged with 42 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage or cause disadvantage by deception under s.192E(1)(b) of the Crimes Act 1900. The client was also charged with one count of deal with identification information to commit or facilitate commission of an indictable offence under s.192J of the Crimes Act 1900 as well as two counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime under s.193B(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 those being strictly indictable matters. Strictly indictable matters cannot be finalised in the Local Court and must proceed to be dealt with in the District Court.

The client worked for a financial institution. He had information at his disposal which was then used to defraud a previous employer of $90,000.00. The client was also attempting to obtain an advantage in the amount $29,000.00 evidenced by declined transactions.


Subjective circumstances

The client had found himself to be under extraordinary financial pressures resulting from bad property investments. He was the sole bread winner and had young children.


Potential penalties

Three of the original charges were strictly indictable. Representations were made to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to a plea bargain whereby the accused would be dealt with in the Local Court on just 5 sequences, with the strictly indictable and remaining serious criminal charges to be withdrawn and dismissed. The charges carried potential penalties of 10 years imprisonment if dealt with in the District Court. However, the individual penalty for each charge dealt with summarily was 2 years imprisonment, with the court having the power to accumulate the sentence, if appropriate.


Local Court proceedings

The likely starting point for this local court sentencing process was imprisonment. Section 5 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act had to be considered by the Magistrate, namely that “a court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless it is satisfied, having considered all possible alternatives, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate.”

A psychological report was obtained to mitigate the client’s circumstances. The Magistrate indicated correctly that due to the amount of money that was defrauded, the position of trust, the offending behaviour continuing over a period of time and the fact that the money had not been paid back, that the starting point would be a full time custodial sentence. After lengthy submissions our criminal defence solicitor was able to persuade the Magistrate to consider an alternative to full time custody. The case was adjourned for the offender to undertake a Home Detention assessment. When the matter resumed, a sentence was imposed of a Home Detention order for a period of eight months with four months parole.


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