COMMONWEALTH OFFENCES

COMMONWEALTH OFFENCES

While the vast majority of criminal offences that are dealt with through the Queensland courts concern offence under Queensland laws such as the Criminal Code (Qld), there is a wide range of Commonwealth offences which may be laid by the prosecuting authorities. Common examples of Commonwealth offences include:

  • Using a telecommunication device (eg phone/internet) to harass;
  • Using the internet to access or distribute child pornography;
  • Importation into Australia of prohibited substances or items (drugs/guns etc);
  • Social Security Fraud;
  • Taxation Offences (failing to lodge tax returns etc);
  • Computer hacking;
  • Insider trading / providing financial advice or services without a licence.

Because a completely different legal framework exists for Commonwealth matters, a different set of principles apply to, for example, the sentencing process.

One of the most obvious examples of this difference can be seen in relation to whether a criminal conviction should be recorded or not. Under the Queensland law, there is a wide discretion open to the Court in deciding whether or not a conviction should be recorded. Under the Commonwealth legislation however, that discretion is very narrow. As such, if a person charged with a Commonwealth criminal offence wants to avoid a conviction being recorded, careful preparation – often much more than what would be required under the Queensland legislation - must be carried out.