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Conspiracy to Defraud is an offence that can come with a stiff punishment. This article provides detailed guidance on the typical sentencing for this offence.

What is the sentence for Conspiracy to Defraud in 2024?

Conspiracy to defraud is the term used for what is the most serious of all fraud allegations. It’s a grave offence that involves several people working together to make money dishonestly.

group of hackers

This type of case will typically include several crimes of different types, a range of victims and in some cases, it will occur over more than one jurisdiction.

Those accused and involved in investigations into a conspiracy to defraud offence will find it to be a stressful and upsetting time. The police and other regulators and prosecutors will look closely at all aspects of your life, your connections and your financial situation. During this time, you may even be issued with a restraint order to freeze your assets, a cash seizure order or confiscation order in addition to a large fine and a hefty prison sentence. Your dependents could be in a situation where they won’t have an income for a significant period.

It’s critical that you seek the advice of a competent lawyer as soon as you discover that you’re being investigated or charged with this crime. By working closely with skilled fraud solicitors, you could get a reduced sentence, or you may even be able to get your case dismissed before it reaches the court stage.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of the conspiracy to defraud offence, this page shows further detail about the sentencing guidelines that judges use to decide what punishment to present.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get a prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely by making it impossible for the prosecutor to prove that the defendant was involved.

Read more about the offence of Conspiracy to Defraud.

More about the conspiracy to defraud offence

The conspiracy to defraud offence always involves more than one person. Here are some examples of this crime that may have led to the situation at hand.

Defrauding of a credit card company – for instance, using iTunes to launder money from a credit card company using fake recording artists.

Defrauding of iTunes – for example, a conspiracy to sell iTunes vouchers on eBay that have been illegally obtained.

Sophisticated bank fraud conspiracy an example of this might be the hacking into of the information technology of a bank to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds using several different bank accounts belonging to different people to withdraw the funds.

High tech frauds – for instance, hacking into data to be used in fraud.

What is the average sentence for conspiracy to defraud offences?

A conspiracy to defraud case is usually heard at a Crown Court. If you are found guilty and convicted, you may be given up to the maximum of ten years imprisonment, given a fine or even receive both. The maximum sentence of ten years is typically given to the most serious of cases. Eight years imprisonment and less is given for lesser crimes.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the conspiracy to defraud offence for sentencing purposes?

The information that judges are given with regards to sentencing are only guidelines, and each case will be looked at individually. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following is an excerpt taken from the website of the Sentencing Council. This information is provided as guidelines to judges on what they should consider when sentencing. However, please note that each case will be looked at individually.

The level of culpability is determined by weighing up all the factors of the case to determine the offender’s role and the extent to which the offending was planned and the sophistication with which it was carried out.

Culpability demonstrated by one or more of the following

A – High culpability

  • A leading role where offending is part of a group activity
  • Involvement of others through pressure, influence
  • Abuse of position of power or trust or responsibility
  • Sophisticated nature of offence/significant planning
  • Fraudulent activity conducted over sustained period of time
  • Large number of victims
  • Deliberately targeting victim on basis of vulnerability

B – Medium culpability

  • A significant role where offending is part of a group activity
  • Other cases that fall between categories A or C because:
    • Factors are present in A and C which balance each other out and/or
    • The offender’s culpability falls between the factors as described in A and C

C – Lesser culpability

  • Involved through coercion, intimidation or exploitation
  • Not motivated by personal gain
  • Peripheral role in organised fraud
  • Opportunistic ‘one-off’ offence; very little or no planning
  • Limited awareness or understanding of the extent of fraudulent activity

Where there are characteristics present which fall under different levels of culpability, the court should balance these characteristics to reach a fair assessment of the offender’s culpability.

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the conspiracy to defraud sentence?

When two or more people are planning or agreeing to defraud somebody, to deceive them or expose them to specific loss or risk, it’s considered to be very serious. In response, the court often hands out serious prosecution to deter offenders.  The aim of the prosecutors both before and during the trial is to prove that you have acted dishonestly.

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. In conspiracy to defraud cases, they may include:

  • Your previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was initially legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any severe medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
  • Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for conspiracy to defraud with a guilty plea?

In recent years, a number of changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten percent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but prior to any witness evidence being heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s important for the solicitor to regularly inform the court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of conspiracy to defraud offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of an offence. These are extra elements that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that affect a dependent’s finances, property or activity.

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of binary option fraud include:

  • Compensation for loss
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Financial reporting order
  • Disqualification from directing a company
  • Confiscation orders

As part of your investigation, you may also have your assets frozen with the possibility of having cash or other assets seized.

In addition, the court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.
Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

Are sentences added to a national information database?

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to court and you are convicted of conspiracy to defraud, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

We handle conspiracy to defraud cases regularly and have deep expertise in this legal field. We can help you by recommending the best course of action to take to mitigate the outcome. No matter what size your case is, get in touch.

Most clients who seek the advice of our expert conspiracy to defraud solicitors fail to understand that it is the prosecution who ‘must prove the case’ to convict you. It is for the prosecution to prove, so that the Jury is no less than sure, beyond any reasonable doubt in their mind, that you were in an Agreement with the others (Conspiracy) and that you were intentionally dishonest in making or trying to make money or causing someone loss.

Whilst this is a high threshold for the prosecution to convict you, it is absolutely imperative that you are also defended by competent and skilled fraud solicitors who really do specialise in defending these prosecutions. Fraud solicitors who have a proven track record of success and who will go over and beyond the call of duty to try and win your case.

It’s particularly important to engage experienced solicitors when the stakes are high, where there is the genuine possibility of a lengthy term of imprisonment and where Confiscation Proceedings are more than certainly to follow the main case. It’s also imperative where there is an incredible impact of your family members; you must be sure your fraud solicitors are creative problem solvers, are experienced and knowledgeable, are right by your side throughout the case and most of all, are absolutely committed to winning.

Our fraud lawyers are experts at unravelling complex and substantial volumes of evidence often associated with Conspiracy to Defraud prosecutions. We have a robust and definite history in successfully defending conspiracy to defraud allegations, and we stop at nothing to find valuable defence evidence to strengthen your defence. While we usually adopt a worst-case scenario position, you can be sure that shortcuts have not been taken and we will go as far as possible to evaluate the likely defence strategies of others bring prosecuted in the same case.

One of the biggest fears of a conspiracy to defraud solicitor defending these allegations is the uncertainty of what other accused in the case will say, whether they will blame you and whether they will produce evidence in their defence which will adversely affect your case. Our fraud solicitors have defended Conspiracy to Defraud cases for decades and always start very early on to build the profile and the likely strategy of others accused from the beginning.

What will happen when I instruct a fraud lawyer?

Our team of fraud lawyers are highly competent and determined to perform well in any court case. Every conspiracy to defraud case is supported by a dedicated solicitor, barrister and caseworker. Working together they will ensure that your level of customer service is exceptional throughout. You can rely on somebody being available to assist you at any time. Besides, it will mean that you have more than one legal mind being applied to every issue in your case.

Also, we use only the best mobile phone experts and only the most competent financial experts to study, analyse and evaluate the evidence to provide useful defence evidence or discredit the prosecution’s evidence. We can also provide other expert witnesses to ensure that your defence strategy is the most robust strategy possible.

The taking of action very early on in any case, is what increases the chances of success. Some prosecutions are highly intimidating, complex and need skilful advice at every crossroads. Stuart Millers solicitors are here to support you every step of the way.

We will offer you a free consultation for you to discuss your case with us. We can act for you at the police station for free, and after that, we can help assess your financial eligibility for legal aid. We believe, no matter what your financial position, if you are prosecuted by the State, you must also be defended with funds by the State.

Arrest & Interview

If you are arrested and taken to the police station for an interview, it’s crucial that you have legal support with you. Everything that you say is recorded. The police will be considering whether what you say and do will help to support the prosecutors in their case against you. The police are trained in asking questions that will put you under pressure and potentially lead you to incriminate yourself.

The police may also seize all your electronic devices for analysis. This will mean your phone,  tablet, computer and they may even investigate what you may have been searching for on your smart television. Besides, they will be looking at who you have recently been in contact with and for how long you may have spoken with them. They will be reading all your emails and messages.

It truly is an investigation that is thorough, and most people find it very stressful. Those who are likely to be imprisoned if convicted may find it even more stressful as they will worry about being separated from loved ones and dependents if convicted.

It’s our aim for you to either avoid being sentenced altogether or to get the lightest sentence possible. We have successfully defended in hundreds of cases and understand how the courts and sentencing works. We can apply our knowledge to your situation and ensure that you get the most favourable outcome.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your conspiracy to defraud case, then call us today. We can help you if you have been arrested by representing you at the police station. We can also investigate securing legal aid to help you financially.

We offer free consultations. Get in touch now for legal help.

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