Sentencing for tipping off

What is the sentence for tipping off?

Being accused of tipping off can lead to serious outcomes. It’s a crime that may put you in prison.

tipping off

The definition of the term tipping off is the act of somebody informing a third party that they may become part of a criminal investigation. Typically, the person is involved in money laundering, fraud or other financial crime.

For the prosecution to be successful at convincing a court to convict the alleged for the tipping off offence, there needs to be evidence to prove that it took place. Allegations of Tipping Off can either be established by evidence taken from a mobile phone, computer evidence or by the presentation of circumstantial evidence, leading to the conclusion that the Tipping Off Offence has been committed.

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

What type of actions are considered Tipping Off?

Here are some examples of tipping off that may have led to the situation at hand.

Warning somebody that they are part of a money laundering investigation – for instance, this could be warning somebody that they could be involved in a money laundering investigation. This could result in them changing their behaviour to avoid being caught in the act of offending. This includes informing someone that a Suspicious Activity Report – otherwise known as SAR has been made about them. The SAR would typically be handed to HMRC, the Police, SOCA or another nominated officer.

Disclosing information to somebody who is part of a terrorism investigation – it’s important to note that in some cases, tipping off isn’t about taking part in financial offences, it’s related to involvement in terrorism. By telling somebody that there are suspicions about them being involved in terrorism, you could prevent the person from behaving how they normally would and therefore avoid being caught offending.

The penalty for tipping off is typically in line with penalties that would be given in a case of failing to tell the authorities if you suspect money laundering or terrorism is taking place.

What is the average sentence for tipping off offences?

The sentence given will depend on how serious the original investigation was that your tipping off prejudiced, the sentence you get could be as much as five years imprisonment.

Tipping off is considered a serious crime as it can prevent a police investigation from running its full length. However, it needn’t result in a prison sentence every time. It depends what happened and who did what.

By taking the right steps and hiring a proficient legal representative, you may even be able to get your case dismissed. At worst, you will be guided so that you can get the best possible outcome.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the tipping off 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 factors are considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Whether you’re being affected by what happened psychologically or emotionally
  • What happened in the case and what harm was done to the victims

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the tipping off sentence?

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:

  • Any 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 tipping off with a guilty plea?

In recent years, several 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 per cent 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 the tipping off 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 tipping off include:

  • Compensation for loss
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Financial reporting order
  • 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 enough 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.

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.

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 tipping off, 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?

Many people come to us for help when they are charged with tipping off. We have a lot of experience and understanding of different defence tactics and strategies. We know the law and stay current with changes. We handle tipping off cases regularly and have an in-depth knowledge of this field. Our legal experts can recommend the best course of action to take to mitigate the outcome. No matter what size your case is, get in touch.

Here at Stuart Miller, we can provide you with legal advice from the moment you feel you may be suspected through to the final stage of the case. We will advise you on how to handle any communication with the police so that you don’t inadvertently make your situation worse than it need be.

We believe the foundation of excellent representation is ensuring you understand the offence that you face and knowing what to expect throughout each step of your case.

Arrest & Interview

It’s possible that you’ve been invited to the police station for an interview or what the police may describe as ‘a chat’. It’s imperative that you do not go to the police station or have any communication with police without the presence of a competent and knowledgeable lawyer.

The police have been trained in a variety of methods to secure a conviction. One of their techniques is to provide you with the means to incriminate yourself. They will share some of the evidence that they have on you, but not all.

By taking a lawyer along with you to the police station, you can be provided with support and legal guidance. The lawyer will ask whether there is any further evidence against you and will also advise you on what to say and what not to say to afford yourself the most protection and the best possible outcome.

Defending Tipping Off Allegations

We have defended businesses, professionals and individuals caught up in Tipping Off Allegations. Whether the Tipping Off relates to deliberately or accidentally alerting someone of a suspicious activity report or relates to the disclosure of information which will prejudice a Money Laundering Investigation; our Money Laundering Solicitors will meticulously analyse the evidence and extract weaknesses from it. We will identify missing evidence which may not have been disclosed to bolster the prosecution case and we will undertake our own investigations to gather supporting defence materials.

Allegations of Tipping Off will either be proven using mobile phone or computer evidence or by the presentation of circumstantial evidence, leading to the irrefutable suggestion that the Tipping Off Offence has been committed.

We have a defined list of tested and vetted Barristers and QCs who are not only talented, but also motivated to win. We will draw on financial experts, mobile phone analysts and computer evaluation experts to build credible evidence to support your case.

If you have credible witnesses to present, we will obtain witness statements and make any other associated enquiries. Whether the material we discover is directly important or indirectly relevant, we will pursue all lines of enquiry in line with the defence strategy we will agree with you from the outset.

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 financial crime lawyers or our tipping off solicitors 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 tipping off legal help.

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