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Engaging in dishonest practices to obtain services is a serious criminal offence in England and Wales, carrying equally as severe penalties for those found guilty, even if they are first-time offenders. If you or someone you care about is facing charges for obtaining services dishonestly or is already being prosecuted, it is crucial to gain a comprehensive understanding of the offence and its implications. In this article, we will outline the offence of obtaining services dishonestly and answer common questions for first-time offenders.
Obtaining services dishonestly is an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. According to Section 11 of the Act, a person is guilty of this offence if they obtain services for themselves or another by a dishonest act, and did not pay for the service, or did not pay the appropriate amount for the service.
To secure a conviction for obtaining services dishonestly, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
Penalties for obtaining services dishonestly include imprisonment, fines, or both, and the offence can be tried either summarily in the Magistrates’ Court or on indictment in the Crown Court.
Examples of this offence include:
In the UK, being suspected of obtaining services dishonestly falls under the Fraud Act 2006. The specific offence is covered in Section 11 of the Act. If you are suspected of such an offence, several things could happen:
If you’re suspected of committing a crime, it is always important to seek legal advice as early on in the process as possible. Expert fraud lawyers will guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options, which could make all the difference to the outcome of your case.
Obtaining services dishonestly is governed by the Fraud Act 2006 and if you are found guilty of the offence under Section 11, you could face up to 5 years’ imprisonment.
When sentencing, the judge will consider factors related to the offender’s culpability and the level of harm caused by the offence. Aggravating factors could include: the offence being part of broader organised crime; it being a repeat offence; the commission of other crimes alongside the offence; and any severe impact on the victims. Mitigating factors could include: it being a first-time offence; the offender showing remorse or attempting to repair the harm caused; good character or exemplary conduct elsewhere; and the offender’s young age or lack of maturity.
If it is determined that the offender is still in possession of services or benefits obtained through the fraud, know that a confiscation order may be made by the Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
This is a hard question to answer because the decision to send someone to prison for their first offence depends on so many factors. This offence is indeed considered to be a serious one and judges rarely opt to suspend sentences, but in exceptional cases that can happen.
First-time offenders do, however, have an advantage in the sense that this being their first offence is usually seen as a mitigating factor. As such, regardless of the sentencing guidelines, the first-time nature of the offence might lead to a reduced sentence, possibly by several months or even years.
To better understand whether a first offence of obtaining services dishonestly will result in a prison term, seek the advice of a seasoned fraud defence solicitor. They can shed light on how similar cases are typically handled, evaluate the strength of your defence, and identify other mitigating factors that may influence the outcome.
When facing charges or a trial for obtaining services dishonestly, it is common to have multiple concerns and questions about the ensuing proceedings. Seeking expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity can greatly impact the outcome. At Stuart Miller Solicitors, we might even be able to have the case dropped before it reaches trial, particularly for first-time offenders. Contact our team today for a free, friendly, and no-obligation consultation.
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