The current economic situation around the country has led many people to feel as though they are at the end of their tether. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider all the time in the United Kingdom and while there is no excuse for committing crime or undertaking fraud, you can see why some people feel as though they are driven to it. Of course, there are some people who decide that undertaking fraud is an easier and more effective option than working, and this is where it becomes difficult to determine the true extent of a person’s wrongdoings.
There is a very strong argument to be made that everyone should be judged on their crime and actions, with nothing else being taken into consideration. In this regard, you would likely receive justice for everyone and there would be no discrepancies between the punishment or penalty imposed on different people. However, you will have many people saying that different circumstances and the role of society will have had an impact on why people have undertaken this sort of crime, and therefore it should be taken into consideration. This then becomes a hugely difficult for area for the Courts to decide upon, and it is clearly something that many defence solicitors can use to their, and their clients advantage. If there are any mitigating circumstances that can be used to minimise the extent of an accused person’s guilt, a solicitor should be looking to exploit this area of the law.
Benefit Fraud can often lead from Emotive Subjects for People
When it comes to benefit fraud, this is a very emotive subject and there are clearly many people in the United Kingdom who feel let down by the society around them. Louise Briggs is a 40 year old woman from Leverington and she pleaded guilty at the Crown Court in Cambridge to two separate charges of failing to report a change in her circumstances. Some people will argue that this is easily done or that Louise may have been unaware that there was no need to inform the authorities of the change in her circumstances. This is becoming less of a defence though because anyone who is in actual receipt of benefits are regularly informed of the need to keep their details up to date and to pass on information about any changes in a person’s circumstances.
Briggs was provided with a 12 month community order and she was instructed to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. This comes after she pleaded guilty to falsely claiming over £37,000 in benefits. Biggs had previously been claiming Council Tax benefit, Housing Benefit and Income Support as a single parent but an anonymous tipoff led to an investigation into her circumstances. The investigation discovered that Briggs moved in 2008, where she was living with a partner who was in full-time employment.
Difficult Times can often change People’s Circumstances
The same court also dealt with a case featuring a 67 year old woman who pleaded guilty to failing to report a change in circumstances. This saw Doreen Hooper earn £9,000 in benefits which she was not entitled to receive. The court decided that Doreen’s age and previous good character would limit her punishment but she was instructed to pay £500 in costs while also being charged £15 for a victim’s surcharge.
Doreen Hooper’s story revolves around buying a home from money provided by her father, but then her father lived in the home until he passed away, whereupon Doreen lived there. She initially claimed that it was not her home but under cross-examination, she admitted that the property was hers and that she knew that this would have an impact on her benefits. The fraud came to light when council records indicated that she was paying full council tax for the property she owned but was receiving council tax benefit and housing benefit for another property in the local area.
When the facts are presented in a black and white manner like that, it can be extremely difficult to argue a case, which is where pleading ignorance and citing mitigating circumstances is likely to be the most effective defence that can be presented in court.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.