Benefit Fraud Step 2
Criminal Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
- If charged with a criminal offence it would result in a court order,
- The police will investigate criminal offences and then pass evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision.
- The CPS will also prosecute (prepare and present) the case at court.
When deciding whether to charge a suspect CPS must consider
- an evidential and
- public interest test
Where a defendant has been charged with the offence they can either be released on bail to attend their first court hearing or be remanded in custody overnight at the police station and taken to court the next day, where he can apply to be released on bail.
- When deciding whether or not to grant a defendant bail the court will consider a number of factors including:
- The seriousness of the offence,
- The defendant’s character; and
- The strength of the case against him.
Bail conditions are any requirements the court considers necessary to ensure that the defendant attends court and does not commit any further offences. These can include:
- Order to stay at a certain address,
- Not to contact the victim or witnesses directly or indirectly,
- Comply with a curfew.
If a person is concerned about whether or not the defendant will be granted bail, or what the conditions of bail will be, they may discuss their concerns with the police officer or the Witness Care Unit contact.
Once these views have been passed onto the CPS they will take such concerns into consideration.
Fraud proceedings will be heard at either:
- The Magistrates’ Court or,
- The Crown Court for trial or sentence
- At the Magistrates Court the defendant will be asked at the first hearing if they are to plead guilty or not guilty.
- At the Crown Court the defendant shall plead guilty or not guilty. A separate Crown Court date would be fixed for the hearing.
If the defendant pleads guilty they will receive a criminal conviction and be sentenced either on the same day, or in a few weeks. If the case is adjourned (postponed) a pre-sentence report is prepared about the defendant.
- If the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date will be set.
Not Guilty Plea
- If an individual decides to plea not guilty a trail date will be set. They would also need a sufficient reason, for example:
- They genuinely did not know that they were committing fraud;
- Lack of knowledge;
- When applying they were not informed properly
- Did not understand what they were filling out
- Genuinely did not believe that they are bound to inform the DWP (Department of Work and Pension)
- Was unable to read or relied on someone else to read it out
- Believed that they were not doing anything wrong
- They did not fill the form out themselves.
Worth noting that if you have signed the document it is likely to show that you have understood the information.
Conviction and Sentence
- The defendant’s sentence depends on the offence as well as the court’s discretion.
- A guilty verdict in a trial could result in a range of sentences including but not restricted to; fine, community order, or prison sentence. Additional orders could be made by the court.
- If the court is satisfied that the defendant has the funds to pay, they may grant a compensation order for the defendant to pay the victim any losses they have suffered
- The Magistrates’ Court is limited to a maximum of £5,000 in compensation.
- If the defendant does not pay such compensation they will serve a prison sentence. Ranging from 7 days for orders under £200, to 10 years for orders over £1m. If the defendant offers part payment, then their sentence would be reduced proportionally.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.