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Can someone get into trouble if they have forged my husband's signature on his children's passport application forms in Victoria, Australia?

Initial forms were signed and sent back but apparently the witness made an error and we were notified that new forms were to be done immediately due to her booking a trip. The discussions all took place via text and we assumed new forms would be provided to us that same week as she said her dad would be out to see us with new forms. It's now been a month and we have been lead to believe passports have already been issued.

We had taken photos of the actual forms signed the application number date and the section with the signature in case something were to happen.

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    My husband and I are the "we" in this situation. His ex wife is the other party who is/has applied for the passports for my husbands two children to her. When my husband initially made a call of concern to the fraud hotline within the passport agency they said to call back in a few weeks. We just wanted to know where we stand should we seek legal advice etc – Mummaoftwo May 15 '17 at 11:27
  • Also from experience with my own children I received a call from the passport agency confirming that I did in fact sign the forms before they were issued. My husband has not received a telephone call. – Mummaoftwo May 15 '17 at 11:31
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Obviously, no one is supposed to forge a signature on a passport application or anything else.

Usually, however, criminal liability for forgery only arises when the fraud is material. In other words, if it is used to gain some significant benefit or cause some harm that wouldn't have been possible without the signature.

It is unlikely that this would be a crime, and unlikely that it would be prosecuted even if it was arguably crime, if the issuance of a passport for the child by the other parent for purposes of travel abroad had already been ratified by the other parent in writing or a text message, or if the other parent was required to agree to sign the application due to a divorce decree or separation agreement.

On the other hand, if the divorce decree or separation agreement was clear that an actual physical signature of the other parent had to be obtained and could be withheld by the other parent, and the communications between the parties were not sufficiently clear to constitute an agreement to sign the application, the forgery probably would be material.

Given that both parents had already signed one application and didn't dispute doing so, and that apparently both parents had agreed to allow the international travel that was contemplated with the initial application, it is hard to see how a forgery on the corrected application would be material. It might even be possible to submit the original application and a new application correcting the erroneous part of the original application together without forging a signature.

A previous answer concerning forgery in Australia is here.

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Forging someone's signature on it means it 'purports to have been made in the form in which it is made by a person who did not make it in that form', which makes it a 'false document' under s 143.2(1)(a) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

Have a look at Divisions 143, 144 and 145 of the Criminal Code and see which sections might apply. Chapter 7 generally has a few offences that might be relevant.

For example, making a 'false document' with the intention that it will be used dishonestly to induce a a Commonwealth public official to accept it as genuine, thereby dishonestly obtaining a gain or influencing the exercise of a public duty or function, is an offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison: s 144.1(1).

Whether an offence was committed in this case depends, among other things, on whether the prosecutor and the court are satisfied that a gain was obtained or a public official was influenced and that this gain or influence was dishonest.

For completeness I would also point out the general disclaimer on this website, that I'm giving general information and not advice that you can use. The words "hypothetically" and "suppose a friend of a friend of mine" have been read into your question. :)

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