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 were not aware of committing fraud
- Did not know that they were using false identity documents.
- Did they receive a financial gain from the fraud?
- Did they sign the documentation as being true?
Conviction and Sentence
- What the defendant gets as his sentence depends on different factors including legal guidelines and what the presentence report recommends.
- However, a guilty verdict in a trial can result in a range of sentences including a fine, a community order or a prison sentence.
- The court may make a number of additional orders as well.
- From the victim’s perspective, if the court is satisfied that the defendant has the funds to pay (the court may use their power to investigate the defendant’s assets), the court may grant a compensation order requiring the defendant to pay the victim for any loss they suffered. The Magistrates’ Court is limited to a maximum of £5,000.
- If the defendant decides not to pay then they will serve a prison sentence until payment, 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 proportionately.