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Sentencing for obtaining services dishonestly

What is the sentence for obtaining services dishonestly in 2024?

The foundation of the obtaining services dishonestly offence is based on a previously listed offence that was part of the Theft Act 1978 and known as Obtaining Services by Deception.

police interview

This previous offence also covered deception and fraudulent representation. However, this newer version of the offence does not need to contain those factors, but just the obtaining of services that are provided in exchange for payment.

At the heart of any case of this nature is the element of having a clear intention to avoid paying for services.

A company director who knows that they are trading insolvently and unable to bills, but who still orders technology work or supplies for the office is likely to be investigated for the crime of obtaining services dishonestly.

Anybody who finds themselves in the position of being connected to an obtaining services dishonestly case should immediately take the legal guidance of a good fraud solicitor.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted obtaining services dishonestly, 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 obtaining services dishonestly?

To provide clarity on what acts may constitute an obtaining services dishonestly offence, here are some examples of situations.

Using public transport without paying – for instance, you may jump onto the train as it’s leaving the railway station. Even if you had to run past the ticket machine without paying, you will still need to pay for your ticket.

Trading fraudulently and gaining services – for example, you may have been trading fraudulently and during this time you took services from groundsmen, IT specialist, cleaning company or other without having any intention of paying them.

Besides the examples of obtaining services dishonestly above, there are many other situations that could be defined as fitting the offence.

Have you been charged or arrested for Obtaining services dishonestly?  

It’s typical to feel worried if you or a loved one has been charged with obtaining services dishonestly. This is a situation where it’s essential that you engage the services of a fraud solicitor with a good reputation for securing optimal trial outcomes.

What is the average sentence for obtaining services dishonestly offences?

An obtaining service dishonestly fraud case can lead to a prison sentence if you are found guilty and convicted. The sentence could be as much as ten years but will depend on the circumstances of your case. Besides, you may be asked to pay a fine and be given ancillary orders as a further penalty and deterrent against future offences.

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the obtaining services dishonestly sentence?

When sentencing for obtaining services dishonestly, your case will be investigated thoroughly by the police and other regulatory agents.

It will be looked at for whether you have taken part in a group activity or to see if you were forced into it. If you’ve used a false identity, or you have used the identity of others to access more funds, this will be considered to decide your 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 obtaining services dishonestly 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 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 obtaining services dishonestly offence?

Ancillary Orders

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

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of obtaining services dishonestly 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.

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.

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

Can sentences 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 obtaining services dishonestly, 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?

It’s the role of the prosecutors to prove that you had a clear intent to obtain services dishonestly.

In your defence, we will examine your situation and seek to protect you on the front foot.

If your bank accounts have been restricted with Restraint Orders or Freezing Orders, we will act promptly to defend your position and remove the encumbrances which could signal the demise of your business. Rest assured we have access to the best Barristers and QCs, forensic accountants, scientific analysts and a huge range of business-related experts who can be called upon to work with us.

Our Fraud Solicitors can help

When you are involved in a case of this nature, it’s critical that fraud solicitors examine the background of the case. This will aid the legal team in building a strong defence for the client to be used during the trial. It will mean looking through your business transactions, bank records and receipts.

Getting to know the client well can make all the difference in being able to represent the client fairly and well. Being able to sell the client to the jury can influence the emotions of the jury. If they like the client, they are far more likely to be lenient with their judgement of the client. They may view the client as being naïve rather than dishonest, and then find them not guilty.

Arrest & Interview

It’s quite likely that the police will seize your electronic devices for the purpose of analysis. We fully comprehend that this can be embarrassing in addition to being highly inconvenient. Most people are now dependent on electronic devices for both personal and work reasons. For the police to take your device, it will be an intrusion into your privacy. They may even hold it for weeks and months.

There’s likely to be feeling of loss without your devices, whether it’s your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. We understand you rely upon them. Our team will put the police under pressure to conclude the investigation and return them as soon as possible.

In addition to representing you at any initial communications with police, we can represent you in the court throughout the trial. Call us today if you have any questions for our fraud lawyers. We are here to help you.

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 obtaining services dishonestly lawyers and fraud 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 obtaining services dishonestly legal help.


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