Benefit Fraud Step 2
Criminal Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
- Being charged with a criminal offence will result in go to court,
- 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
When an individual is charged with a criminal offence and the case goes to court, the complainant should be given a single point of contact for updates and information on the court proceedings. This can be by a police officer assisting on the investigation.
Where a defendant has been charged with the offence they could be either 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 morning, where the defendant 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 or interfere with (approach/threaten) witnesses. These can include
- Order to stay at a certain address,
- Not to contact the victim or witnesses directly or indirectly and,
- To 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 such concerns with their police officer or the Witness Care Unit contact.
Once the views have been passed onto the CPS they will take the concerns into consideration.
ABH and GBH proceedings will be heard at either:
- The Magistrates’ Court.
- Crown Court for trial or sentence or,
- At the Magistrates Court the defendant will be asked at the first hearing if he pleads guilty or not guilty.
- At the Crown Court at the first hearing then the defendant will plead guilty or not guilty at a separate Crown Court hearing at a later date (called a Plea and Case Management Hearing or PCMH).
If the defendant pleads guilty he 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 for pre-sentence reports is prepared about him.
- The victim will usually not need to attend court if the defendant pleaded guilty. However, if the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date will be set.
Not Guilty Plea
Before Plea there are some key factors that the defendant will need to ask themselves:
- Do you have any previous conviction? If so, are they against the person?
- What was the circumstances, was it a sustained attack or a lash out?
- What was the reason?
- Was it force proportionate?
Example: Punching someone because they called you a name is not proportionate therefore, why were you provoke and to what extent?
- What is your defence?
- Credible defence,
- What is the cost implication if defence is not credible?
- Credit is rewarded if pleading guilty and earliest opportunity.
- Prosecution will ask for costs alongside any other fine or punishment.
- Bill could be between £500-£600.
- he defendant’s interview,
- Witness statements,
- Forensic evidence, and
- Physical evidence such as CCTV.
The defendant’s lawyer has to put forward what the defendant says (his ‘defence’) without being aggressive or intimidating.
Note: The defendant can discuss issues and enquires with their police officer or Witness Care Unit contact prior to giving evidence. This is organised by the court Witness Service.
After Evidence Has Been Given
- After you have given evidence the CPS will present any other evidence they have.
- The defence then gets a chance to present their evidence.
- The prosecutor and defence lawyer will then present to the court that will decide whether the defendant is found guilty or not guilty.
In the Crown Court this decision is made by a jury, whom are guided on the law by the judge. In the Magistrates’ Court, the decision is made by a judge or a panel of magistrates.
- If the defendant is found guilty they shall receive a criminal conviction and will be sentenced – either straight away or after pre-sentence reports are prepared by a probation officer.
- If the defendant is to be found not guilty then they are free to leave the court without a criminal conviction.
- The defendant can only be convicted if the magistrates, judge or jury are sure that they are guilty of the offence.
Conviction and Sentence
- What the defendant gets as his sentence depends on different factors including but not limited to; legal guidelines and what the presentence report recommends.
- The victim’s statement (VPS) will also be read and taken into account by the court at sentence.
A VPS is a statement taken from you after you give a witness statement to the police, or at any stage in the proceedings up to sentence, and is your chance to indicate the impact the abuse has had on you and your daily life.
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.