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Wednesday, 09 August 2023 17:00

Making a false declaration in Queensland

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False Declarations in Queensland

If you've ever dealt with legal matters, you're probably familiar with the concept of a statutory declaration. In Australia, statutory declarations serve as formal, written statements used to affirm the truth of certain facts or matters. They play a crucial role in various legal processes, ensuring transparency and accuracy.

Statutory declarations are often used to verify facts or circumstances for legal purposes, such as applying for a visa, claiming an insurance benefit, transferring a ticket or fine to another person or transferring property.

One essential aspect of statutory declarations is that the information in them cannot be a lie. Lying or making a false declaration on a statutory declaration in Queensland is covered under section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959.

In this article, we'll delve into the significance of Section 11 and explore two noteworthy cases being R v Ndizeye [2006] QCA 537 and Amin v Queensland Police Service [2020] QDC 260.

Overview

Section 11 states that:

False declarations

A person must not intentionally make a false statement in a statutory declaration.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 4 years.

 

The Statutory Declarations Act outlines the requirements and conditions that must be met for a person to take a statutory declaration. This legislation emphasizes the importance of understanding the contents of the declaration and the consequences of making false statements. The goal is to ensure that individuals making statutory declarations are fully aware of the legal implications of their statements and that they make truthful declarations.

A false statement in a statutory declaration is one that is not true or correct in some material particular. This means that the statement must be relevant or important to the purpose or effect of the statutory declaration. For example, if you make a statutory declaration to support your visa application, and you falsely state that you have never been convicted of any offence, that would be a false statement in a statutory declaration.

However, not every mistake or error in a statutory declaration amounts to a false statement. The person making the statutory declaration must have an intention to deceive or mislead by making the false statement. This means that they must know that the statement is false, or be reckless or wilfully blind to its falsity. For example, if you make a statutory declaration based on information that you honestly and genuinely believe to be true, but later turns out to be false, you may not have committed an offence under section 11.

Key points of Section 11 include:

  1. Requirement of Understanding: The person making the statutory declaration must have a proper understanding of the declaration's content.
  2. False Declarations: It is crucial for declarants to comprehend that making a false declaration is a criminal offense and may lead to penalties.
  3. Penalties: Penalties for making false declarations can include imprisonment or fines, underscoring the seriousness of the matter.

Now, let's examine how Section 11 has been interpreted and applied in real-life cases.

Case Summaries

R v Ndizeye

In this case, the appellant pleaded guilty to making a false statutory declaration by falsely stating that he was not the driver of a motor vehicle that incurred a speeding infringement but his mother was. He did this to avoid liability for the demerit points. He made the false statutory declaration before a Justice of Peace at the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The sentencing judge imposed a sentence of 175 hours of unpaid community service within 12 months, disqualified him from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for four months, and ordered that convictions be recorded for each offence.

The appellant appealed against the recording of convictions, arguing that it would affect his employment prospects. He also submitted that he had cooperated with the police, had no previous convictions, had shown remorse, and had performed well on his community service order.

The Court of Appeal upheld his appeal and removed the recording of the conviction. The Court held that making a false statutory declaration was a serious offence that struck at the heart of the administration of justice, and that ordinarily a conviction would be called for but his personal circumstances warranted no conviction being recorded.

 

Amin v Queensland Police Service

In this case, the appellant was convicted, by his plea of guilty, of three offences of making a false statutory declaration by falsely stating that he was not the driver of a motor vehicle at the time that it was detected by a camera for speeding offences. He did this to avoid demerit points and fines.

The presiding magistrate imposed a global fine of $2,500 and ordered that convictions be recorded for each offence.

The appellant appealed against the recording of convictions, arguing that it was manifestly excessive and that it would affect his employment opportunities especially his ability to be able to practice as a medical professional. He also submitted that he had limited criminal history, had shown remorse, had paid the fines, and had a disadvantaged background.

The District Court dismissed his appeal and confirmed the recording of convictions. The Court held that making a false statutory declaration was a serious offence that involved dishonesty and deception, and that the recording of convictions was within range and not manifestly excessive. The Court also noted that the appellant had made three false statutory declarations on separate occasions, which showed a pattern of offending. The Court found that the offences the offences were serious and strike at the heart of the administration of justice.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the purpose of Section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act (Cth)?

Section 11 ensures that individuals making statutory declarations are aware of the content and consequences of their statements. It emphasizes the seriousness of making false declarations and outlines penalties for such actions.

 

What are the penalties for making a false statutory declaration?

Penalties for making a false statutory declaration can include imprisonment or fines, as outlined in the relevant legislation.

 

Why is understanding the content of a statutory declaration important?

Understanding the content of a statutory declaration is crucial to ensure that declarants are fully aware of the truthfulness of their statements. It helps maintain the integrity of legal processes and prevents the submission of false information.

 

Who can witness a statutory declaration?

A statutory declaration can be witnessed by any person who is authorised by law to do so. This includes justices of peace, lawyers, police officers, doctors, teachers, accountants, engineers, pharmacists, and many other professionals. A full list of authorised witnesses can be found on the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department website.

 

What is the maximum penalty for making a false statement in a statutory declaration?

The maximum penalty for making a false statement in a statutory declaration is imprisonment for 4 years.

 

What is the difference between a statutory declaration and an affidavit?

A statutory declaration is a formal statement of facts made under oath or affirmation, while an affidavit is a formal statement of facts made under oath. The main difference between the two is that a statutory declaration can be made in front of a witness, while an affidavit must be made in front of a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of Declaration or a Lawyer.

 

Summary

Section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act (Cth) makes it an offence to intentionally make a false statement in a statutory declaration. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 4 years. It is important to be aware of the consequences of making a false statement in a statutory declaration, as the penalties can be severe. If you are unsure about whether or not you can make a statutory declaration, it is always best to seek legal advice.

Remember, the information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Read 272 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 August 2023 17:38
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.