Many offences of this nature are committed sometimes unknowingly by benefit claimants. Where there is a change in circumstances and you do not inform either the Council or the Department of Work and Pensions within a reasonable amount of time then this can lead to a fraud investigation commencing.
Usually you will be invited in for a benefit interview and it is very important that you have a solicitor accompanying you as the interview will be recorded and under Caution and what you say may very well be used against you in any subsequent Court Proceedings.
Many people think that they can work for 16 hours or less and still claim benefits, which in many cases is true however the amount of income that you receive still has to be disclosed and if you do not do so then that can lead to an offence being committed. Similarly if you move in with a partner and that partner works then that also needs to be disclosed. There are many different ways in which a person can get into trouble and that is why it is important to seek independent legal advice.
If you are on benefits then you will normally be entitled to Legal Aid for one of our criminal solicitors to attend with you at the interview however if you are working then we can agree a fixed fee of £150.00 plus VAT (Total £180.00) to attend with you.
If you are charged with a benefit fraud offence then this can fall into 2 categories. A simple fail to disclose a change of circumstances can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court but if there is an allegation of "dishonestly" failing to disclose then that can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court and certain factors will then determine where your trial will take place if you are pleading not guilty.
Following an interview with the Council or the DWP where they believe that you have committed an offence you will receive a summons through the post with a lot of the paperwork enclosed. This can take up to six months or more from the interview so if you receive any such paperwork then please bring it to our offices at Cedar Chambers, Cedar Square, Blackpool, FY1 1BP as soon as possible so that we can arrange representation for you.