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.