What Is Centrelink?
Centrelink provides income support along with other various financial payments to Australians who suffer from financial hardship. It is part of Services Australia – the Australian Government department that distributes payments and services in the interests of various government programs involving Medicare, Child Support and Centrelink.
There are a number of Centrelink payments that one may be able to receive. Some common payments include:
- JobSeeker – assists those who are looking for employment
- Youth Allowance – for students, apprentices and other young individuals
- ABSTUDY – helps Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders with living costs while studying
- Disability Support Pension – for those who live with a disability
- Rent Assistance – supports low-wage earners who pay rent
- Age Pension – for Australians over retirement age
Centrelink Fraud & The Consequences
Centrelink fraud is taken very seriously by the courts. It occurs when individuals intentionally deceive Centrelink for their own benefit in order to receive payments that they are not legally entitled to. This happens when people deliberately provide information that is false, either purposefully or knowingly.
Some examples of Centrelink fraud include:
- Divulging inaccurate forms of income from employment, investments and other sources
- Making false statements (e.g. overemphasising your medical condition)
- Presenting forward any false or forged documents
- Claiming Centrelink payments that you are not entitled to (e.g. Youth Allowance)
There is an assortment of criminal charges that can be registered as a means to pronounce an individual guilty of Centrelink fraud. Such penalties fluctuate correspondingly depending on the nature of the crime committed. According to the Criminal Code, the maximum consequences for Centrelink fraud are stated below.
- Acquiring a Financial Advantage by Deception: Imprisonment for ten years
- Composing A False Claim For One’s Benefit: Imprisonment for ten years
In regard to the highest penalty of 10 years of incarceration, the court has the ability to appoint other penalties where it is deemed appropriate. The court will ponder on numerous circumstances, such as any prior criminal history, individual circumstances, and factors bordering the offence, in order to decide what alternative retributions are suitable. Some penalties that the court may rule to impose on an individual may be home detention, suspended sentences, reduced fines or even community service orders.
If you were charged with Centrelink fraud, you essentially have been charged with a criminal offence. Therefore, you should seek advice from criminal lawyers Parramatta who are able to explain your rights to you as well as how they will be able to successfully defend your Centrelink fraud charges. Criminal lawyers Parramatta are able to understand the strain that Centrelink fraud cases have had on their clients and families alike, being able to provide empathetic and indifferent support and advice to each and every one of their clients.
Is Centrelink Fraud A Crime?
Centrelink fraud is considered to be a criminal offence, meaning you could quite possibly be prosecuted and may receive a large fine and even imprisonment.
While there is no distinct offence that is linked to Centrelink fraud, there are numerous charges that are utilised to convict individuals that are involved in such activities. One of the most frequently used charges when it comes to Centrelink fraud is of obtaining a financial advantage. Under division 134.2 of the Criminal Code 1995, it states the following:
- A person commits an offence if:
- The person, by deception, dishonestly obtains a financial advantage from another person; and
- The other person is a Commonwealth entity
One more regularly used offence to sentence an individual of Centrelink fraud can be established below section 135.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, where one has made a false claim for their own personal benefit. Through this section, it represents any activity that has resulted in a profit or loss in opposition with a Commonwealth entity or has influenced a Commonwealth Public Official during the exertion of their duties.
Do I Need To Hire Criminal Lawyers Parramatta?
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the laws that are surrounding Centrelink fraud are extraordinarily complex and intricate. Some people may often think that representing themselves in court can save them a lot of time and money. Any attempt at going to court alone and representing yourself can prove to be very challenging, and it carries lots of risks. This will do you a lot more bad than good.
With the help of criminal lawyers Parramatta, they are able to present you with a strong defence case, being able to explain all of your options and even help you avoid any severe penalties. Professional lawyers know how to negotiate, and being equipped with lots of experience, they have likely manoeuvred through a case similar to yours, meaning they have the ability to apply their own knowledge to your situation.
So, get in touch with an expert lawyer today to provide you with practical and easy-to-understand advice in relation to your Centrelink fraud case.