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Obtaining property by deception 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 Obtaining property by deception in 2024?

The act of obtaining property by deception is an offence in UK law. Dishonestly obtaining property that belongs to another by fraud, to permanently deprive the other of it can lead to a hefty sentence of imprisonment.

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This offence falls under the Theft Act 1968, and several actions can lead to being charged with the crime. A similar fraud offence is known as obtaining services by deception

Being under investigation for obtaining property by deception can be hard to handle. It’s a time when you need an excellent fraud solicitor by your side.

It can be very alarming to find yourself being accused of obtaining property by deception. You’ll wonder if this will lead to you a spell behind bars and what damage that may do to your peace of mind, your familial bonds and personal relationships. Will you need to pay a hefty fine in addition to being handed a prison sentence? What will become of dependents who can no longer depend on your income for bills, mortgage or rent payments?

On this page, you’ll find some of the questions our clients ask about sentencing for the offence of property by deception. We’ve added the answers but if you feel you need to know more or cannot find the information that you’re looking for, feel free to call us on 0208 888 5225.

Please note that a fraud solicitor with experience in defending for this offence may be able to get any prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

Have you been charged or arrested for obtaining property by deception?  

Being charged or arrested for obtaining property by deception is bound to make anybody feel stressed out. It’s worrying, confusing, very concerning and you’ll wonder what’s going to happen next.

The importance of your future is why we recommend that you take the professional legal guidance of an experienced fraud solicitor. He or she will be able to work with you on what happened, who was involved and what the outcome was. The solicitor will also be able to demand to see all evidence that the police have on you.

The police force train to secure convictions, and one of their tactics is to withhold evidence. You’ll be asked some very probing and intrusive questions with the idea being that those questions may lead to you making statements that can be used as evidence against you in Court. The police will prosecute you, and they will try to get you to incriminate yourself during that police interview.

Anybody who is being interviewed by the police is in an unsafe situation—only having an experienced fraud lawyer by your side to advise on what to say and what not to say will help you to get the most favourable outcome.

If you would like us to come to the police station to represent you for free, call our emergency number 07980 000 076.

What type of actions are considered obtaining property by deception?

The police will generally be leading any investigations into obtaining property by deception offences.

The typical actions that would fall under this offence are:

Gaining money transfer by deception – for instance, if you deceived somebody into sending you a money transfer or you collected a money transfer that is not for you, this is an offence.

Securing property by deception – for example, if you claimed something at the lost property, stating that it was yours and using misguiding words to prove it was, this is an offence.

Claiming to be eligible for a scheme that you are not qualified to take part in – for example, if there is a sponsorship opportunity, and you claim to have achieved specific goals, but have not, this may be an offence.

What is the average sentence for obtaining property by deception offences?

Depending on what you are charged with, the maximum sentence for this offence is ten years in prison.

The maximum sentences will only be issued when there has been reckless and blatant offending that involves high-value property or money. When it comes to smaller offences, a penalty is likely to be between one and three years.

Here are the guidelines that judges and magistrates receive to decide what sentence to give.

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 a sustained period of time
  • A large number of victims
  • Deliberately targeting victim on the 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.


Harm is initially assessed by the actual, intended or risked loss as may arise from the offence.

The values in the table below are to be used for actual or intended loss only.

Intended loss relates to offences where circumstances prevent the actual loss that is intended to be caused by the fraudulent activity.

Risk of loss (for instance in mortgage frauds) involves consideration of both the likelihood of harm occurring and the extent of it if it does. Risk of loss is less serious than actual or intended loss. Where the offence has caused a risk of loss but no (or much less) actual loss, the standard approach is to move down to the corresponding point in the next category. This may not be appropriate if either the likelihood or extent of risked loss is particularly high.

Harm A – Loss caused or intended
Category 1 £500,000 or more Starting point based on £1 million
Category 2 £100,000 – £500,000 or Risk of category 1 harm Starting point based on £300,000
Category 3 £20,000 – £100,000 or Risk of category 2 harm Starting point based on £50,000
Category 4 £5,000 – £20,000 or Risk of category 3 harm Starting point based on £12,500
Category 5 Less than £5,000 or Risk of category 4 harm Starting point based on £2,500

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the obtaining property by deception sentence?

When sentencing for obtaining property by deception, your case will be investigated thoroughly by the police and possibly 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 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 obtaining property by deception 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. However, the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge, who has the 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 essential 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 property by deception offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of obtaining property by deception 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 property by deception 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.

Besides, 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.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

Several national databases 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 property by deception, 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?

Obtaining property by deception defences have been part of our repertoire for more than thirty years. We know this offence inside out and are very familiar with all arguments put forward by the prosecution. Our defence strategies are proven in this field of law, and we can give you the support you’ll need to get you through the investigation and potential court case.

Every client we take on is assigned a barrister, a caseworker and a fraud lawyer. We initiate our work by exploring the circumstances surrounding your case and examine all pieces of evidence held on you for flaws, failings and discrepancies.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

We offer free thirty-minute consultations to anybody who is under investigation for obtaining property by deception. If you would like a no-obligation chat with us so that you can share your concerns, ask questions and understand more about what the potential outcome might be from a case of this nature, get in touch. You can complete our contact form or call us on 0208 888 5225.

Get in touch with us now for possession of obtaining property by deception legal help.


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