It is an offence both to create such a document, or to use such a false document. These separate offences involve the presence of five requirements.
Firstly, it must be satisfied that the document was created or used. The definition of a document is exhaustive, and may include maps, drawings, photographs, labels, discs and films. Essentially anything that has marks, words, figures or symbols which are capable of having a meaning to the person viewing them.
Secondly, it must be shown that the document was of a false nature. There are many factors that may render a document “false.” Essentially, falsity involves the circumstances of the documents’ creation, or existence, being, in some way, not what they are purported to be. For example, a document being represented by the accused as being authorised, when it was not. Or perhaps a document was purported to have been created by a person, who did not actually create it.
Thirdly, the accused must have been aware of the falsity of the document. Thus, they need to have been aware that the document they were creating or using was not what it would be represented to be.
Fourthly, the accused must have intended that someone else be induced to accept the document as being authentic. This will differ based on the facts of the case, but essentially the subjective intention of the accused was to deceive the victim.
Finally, that the accused needs to have intended that the victim in accepting that the document was genuine, acted in a way that prejudiced someone other than the accused. Prejudice, for these purposes, can mean a number of things. It may include depriving someone of property, or opportunity. The person who is prejudiced need not be the victim. The prejudice may also mean that a person failed to do something, such as failed to perform their duties in a proper manner.
Common examples of falsifying a document include falsifying a signature, using a false identification document and falsifying invoices.
Making and using false documents are serious offences, and if convicted a person may be liable for up to ten years imprisonment.