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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69359
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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last year I was interviewed under caution for claiming to much

Customer Question

last year I was interviewed under caution for claiming to much housing benefit, I admitted that I had buried my head in the sand a bit and that I was sorry. I have been paying it back since December last year and have records from my council to prove this aswell as my own bank statements to. after the interview had ended I was told by the person interviewing me that I would have to pay the sum back and that she would recommend that I got a high level caution to save me going to court and having my name put in the papers and everything else, she also said that I would hear something in the new year. I haven't heard anything for months then yesterday I had a summons come through the post relateing to the matter, even though I have been paying it back im very very worried, does this mean I could go to prison? what would be the most likely outcome? community payback? a fine? or prison? I work 50 hours a week Monday to Friday and at the weekends I have been going to do things for my mum as she broker her knee last chiristmas, any advice would be brilliant especially the worst case scenario
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Have you been in trouble before?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


no I have never been in trouble before

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


No I have never been in trouble of any kind before

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

Sorry for the delay.

How much was the overpayment?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

originally it was 2,350 but I have been paying it off now and its down to less than 2,000

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.

What was the nature of the housing benefit fraud?

I am just trying to assess sentence?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I was out of work and I had to claim benefit, but then I found a job, I tried to contact the council and so did my partener, but thy say they have no records of this, I would just like to know what I can expect, prison community payback or a fine?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

If the facts are as you say then you are facing a fine or a conditional discharge. Possibly there might be a low level community order but not likely.

This is a first offence and you are repaying the amounts of your own volition. It was a genuine claim from the outset and you failed to report a change of circumstances so there's no particular aggravation.

Can I help further?

Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thankyou, but could you explain what a conditional discharge is? and a low level community order? I am unsure because like I said I have never been in trouble before

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
A conditional discharge means that you are discharged by the court unless you commit any offence during the discharge period.

The nature of the community order would depend on the recommendation by probation but its not likely anyway. If you don't have any issues then its not likely to be easily dedicated upon.

This is a low sum and you are repaying it.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Does any of that mean I will have a criminal record following me for the rest of my life?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, unfortunately it will lead to a criminal record

The only way to avoid that is to plead not guilty and be acquitted.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Does it last for life? It could mean I would struggle to find work in the future, I didn't think I would recive a criminal record for this

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I'm afraid it will stay on PNC for life.

It will become spent after a certain period of time that will depend on the sentence
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Will it go on the police national computer even though I haven't been arrested? I was only interviewed by the council under caution not the police

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes it will I'm afraid
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


will I have to sign a register or anything? Will I have to declare it if I go after jobs in the future?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No you won't have to sign a register

Yes you will have to declare any conviction if asked.

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