Lying on a statutory declaration form is never a good idea.
Even famous people like Marcus Einfield (who was probably even more famous due to his well-known blunder) and Lara Bingle has been caught out.
Bingle fared better.
On air she stated that she lost her licence because she took the penalties for friends.
Although she later claimed it was just a ‘joke’, the RMS was onto her.
Fortunately for her the investigation was dropped, but not before the RMS publicly emphasised the penalties that it could entail.
A statutory declaration is not normally used in court- it is usually for business and legal decisions.
But if you knowingly fill one in wrong, you could certainly end up in court!
Making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence and can have long-term impacts on your life.
Even if you lied about on a statutory declaration form about a traffic offence – as many false statutory declarations do – you are not committing a traffic offence, but a criminal offence.
This means that, if convicted, you will get a criminal record.
Penalties for lying can be far more than a fine, a few demerit points, or even a loss of licence.
Going to court for lying in a statutory declaration can be a stressful and expensive experience.
It is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the NSW Oaths Act.
While it is unlikely that a person will receive jail time unless there are exceptional circumstances, fines for the offence can often number into the thousands, with the maximum penalty for an individual being $5,500.
And getting away with it is not as easy as some might think.
Local courts routinely hear cases where drivers falsely nominate someone else – sometimes a person not even in the country at the time of the incident, or nominate someone who never existed.
Aside from these excuses which often fail, even agreeing to be nominated on behalf of your spouse, child or other friend or family member is a bad idea.
If the incident was caught on camera, there is a good chance that the driver was also photographed.
If the nominated person is of a different gender to the person who received a fine, images taken by the camera may show this.
If this is the case, both you and the person who agreed to be nominated, if they agree to take the penalty for you, will be in trouble.
Are there any defences available?
The defence of ‘honest and reasonable mistake’ may be available to you, since the offence requires that you acted “wilfully and corruptly” to make a declaration that you knew to be false.
This means that if you can raise the defence of honest and reasonable mistake, you will not be found guilty.
To do so, you must raise two things:
- That you honestly believed your declaration to be truthful; and
- That your mistake was reasonable in all of the circumstances.
This defence is only available if you make a mistake about the facts that occurred, not about the law.
Simply being unaware that lying on a statutory declaration form was a serious offence is not enough to constitute a defence.
An acceptable mistake of fact occurs if you genuinely believed a set of facts that, if true, meant you did not commit an offence.
If you are currently facing charges of making a false statutory declaration, contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately.
Although many think of this offence as relatively trivial, the penalties can impact your life and future – so it is important to get top legal advice so you can get the best possible result, whatever the circumstances.