Sentencing for electoral fraud

What is the sentence for electoral fraud?

Electoral fraud is regarded as a far-reaching and serious criminal act and an offence that can be heavily penalised.

electoral fraud

Convicted offenders are typically sentenced harshly due to the basis of democracy being a fundamental philosophy of this country and the ideology that a democratic process is based on there being free and fair elections.

Examples of offences range from voting twice for a party, to impersonation when voting by post to a wide range of campaign offences. These offences can distort the results of elections, weaken the legitimacy of those elected and can also cause mistrust in communities.

For most prosecutions of electoral fraud cases, The Representation of the People Act 1983 is used as a benchmark. However, cases that are regarded as Conspiracy to Defraud may come under general criminal law, if more than one person is involved in the alleged crime.

Being accused of electoral fraud can put the accused under immense stress. It can be hard to sleep and operate in day to day life. The accused are unlikely to be put on remand until trial. Therefore, it’s important to hire a strong and highly competent legal team with experienced in electoral fraud offences to develop a strong defence strategy.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of an electoral fraud offence, we’ve detailed the sentencing guidelines.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get a prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

More about electoral fraud

Being accused of this crime can be very daunting. It’s vital to gaining a favourable outcome that specialist electoral fraud solicitors are engaged to help as soon as possible.

Here are some examples of electoral fraud that may have led to the situation at hand.

Vote Buying – the term used when voters are given money, services or goods in exchange for a vote in an upcoming election. Parties may send out runners to find voters to bargain with for a vote.

Manipulation of demography – an example of this is when authorities move many voters into an electorate using land or temporary lodging so that they are eligible to vote in that location. It may also be that public housing is used as a bribing mechanism.

Intimidation – this is when the protection and privacy of the polling location are compromised. Bullying and intimidation may take the form of physical, verbal or coercion.

Misleading or confusing ballot papers – an example of this is when a political party is created with a similar name or symbol. The goal is to coerce voters into voting for this candidate to influence the election results.

Ballot stuffing – for example, one person will stuff the ballot box with multiple ballots despite there being only one ballot per person permitted. This offence can also happen with electronic machines.

What is the average sentence for electoral fraud offences?  

Obviously, sentences vary and will reflect upon what you are charged with. For example, in 2017, a man was convicted of voting twice for the same party. He had used a variation of his name to register twice at the same address. He then proceeded to vote for his chosen party by both postal vote and polling station.

The police discovered what had occurred when he was reported for posting about his misdemeanour on Twitter. The accused confessed that he had voted once by post and once in person. He was fined £150, was ordered to pay £200 in court costs in addition to a £30 victim surcharge – a total of £380.

The convicted man was also banned from registering and voting in any UK election in addition to not being permitted to be elected to the House of Commons or to hold any elected office.

Taking 2017 as an example, in many cases those investigated by the police are often given a police caution, despite this being considered a severe crime with far-reaching effects by the courts. There was only the one conviction in 2017 which is detailed above.

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the electoral fraud sentence?

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.

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following are some of the other factors considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was originally legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any serious 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 electoral fraud 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 electoral fraud 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 electoral fraud include:

  • Not being permitted to vote for a set period
  • Not being permitted to be elected into office for a set period

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.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

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 electoral fraud, 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.

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

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

Our electoral fraud solicitors’ reputation is rightly based on being totally dedicated to serving the best interests of our clients. From the police station and investigation stages of the case, right through to the very end, we assume the role of protecting you from the ugly wrath of the prosecution and ensuring we secure the best chances of your success in your case.

Electoral fraud is regarded as a grave crime in the UK. Free and fair elections are the lifeblood of the democratic process, and hence the offences are liable to be prosecuted vigorously.

Being accused of a crime of this nature means suffering from feelings of distress and worry as the accused will wonder what the outcome might be. If it’s a very serious situation, the accused may be found guilty and given a harsh prison sentence. Being imprisoned means they will be taken away from loved ones and dependents. Providing an income to support family members will no longer be an option.

Our electoral fraud solicitors are well-versed in how to improve the outcome of any electoral fraud investigations.

If you are asked by the police to attend the police station for an interview, it’s imperative that you do not participate in the meeting without the presence of a competent and skilled legal professional. An experienced lawyer will be able to guide on what to say and do during your police interview.

It’s part of police training to receive guidance on how to secure convictions. Part of the training focuses on how to ask questions to trick the accused into incriminating themselves.

The police are also known for not initially producing all the evidence that they have against you. The benefit of taking a legal professional with you is that they can ask what other evidence the police have against you and can request to view it. The lawyer can also pressure the police to conclude their investigation into your offence so that you can get resume your normal daily life faster.

The electoral fraud solicitors of Stuart Miller Solicitors are experts at dissecting evidence. Using years of experience that is required to know how to break down the case of prosecutors, they can develop a robust and impenetrable defence strategy for the accused.

With access to a broad range of expert witnesses, our electoral fraud solicitors can create a powerful defence strategy that will produce the best possible outcome for you.

How can our electoral fraud solicitors help?

Stuart Miller Solicitors have significant experience of dealing with serious offences such as electoral fraud.

We can start by advising you and preparing a defence strategy for your electoral fraud case as soon as it becomes known that you are involved in the offence and being investigated by the police. We can attend the police station with you to safeguard your rights. If the investigation results in charges being preferred, our electoral fraud solicitors can represent you throughout the trial and appeal process, if appropriate.

We offer strategic and commercially savvy lawyers with a fresh and dynamic approach to electoral fraud defence. We don’t believe in waiting for the prosecution to build the case against you and sitting idly by until they give us their evidence. We stand by our commitment to take early instructions and begin collecting defence evidence from the very outset. The benefit of such a pro-active and energetic approach to electoral fraud defence is that crucially important evidence supporting your case may have the capability of supporting the dismissal or withdrawal of charges, thereby avoiding the prosecution altogether.

Arrest & Interview

At the outset of an investigation of this nature, it is commonplace for the police to seize all of your electronic devices for analysis. We understand you will feel a sense of embarrassment with such levels of intrusion into your privacy. They may be seized for weeks, months and sometimes even longer.

Today, where people rely heavily upon technology, we understand you may feel at a loss without them. It is essential you contact our team of electoral fraud solicitors the moment you become aware an investigation is imminent or underway. Not only can our team prepare you for what can be a lengthy and gruelling process, once the investigation is underway, but we can also put pressure on the police to conclude their investigation as quickly as possible. Our electoral fraud solicitors provide representation throughout police interviews and at all stages of the Court process.

Our electoral fraud solicitors will fully support you and ensure all possibilities are explored when defending your case. We will never accept the prosecution’s case at face value. We will seek out weaknesses in their case, we will challenge illegally obtained evidence and try to kick out inadmissible evidence. If any of the Charges cannot be proved by law, we will apply for those charges to be dismissed.

In the event that you accept the offence and are looking at the potential consequences or sentences imposed for electoral fraud, our legal team will create a defence strategy to do their best to achieve your objectives. We will do everything possible to present your case and personal circumstances in the best light, so the Judge feels legally incapable of imposing unduly harsh sentences and where possible, we will always fight tooth and nail to avoid jail terms.

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 case, then call us today.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can look at securing your legal aid.

Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our electoral fraud lawyers to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Get in touch with us now for possession of electoral fraud legal help.

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