Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

£19.99 + £1.50 (P&P)

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Default advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Hello,
    I posted here previously with regards to me being charged with benefit fraud of a total overpaymenticon of 6669 for failing to declare a change in my circumstances.

    I am at court this Tuesday and have received a letter this morning telling me my application for legal aid has been refused.

    I am looking for some advice as to what is likley to happen at court if i dont have a solicitor present will i be questioned? or will they just decide on the facts that they already have about the case?

    Does going alone mean i would be more inclined to recieve a heavier punishment?
    please help im am so scared i could go to jail.

    Thanks in advance


  2. #2
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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Will try and find some help for you.

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  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    sorry just to mention i admitted the offence straight away in an IUC and will be pleading guilty dont know if this helps or not


  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Thank you citizen B


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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    All information will help. I have flagged your thread for site team attention. I am sure someone will look in on you as soon as then can.

    The link below is for the benefit of anyone looking in. It is your original thread.

    http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk...it-fraud/page3

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Quote Originally Posted by misssparkle View Post
    sorry just to mention i admitted the offence straight away in an IUC and will be pleading guilty dont know if this helps or not
    I seem to remember that pleading guilty can give you a lesser sentence.


  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    thanks so much for al your quick replies

    My main worry is that having never been in court before and having no solicitor will i be asked lots of questions? and am i looking at a custodil sentence? do they cross examine you in a magistrates court?


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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    I believe there is a Court solicitor available who you will be able to talk to. Others will know more about this than me. I am sorry I am unable to help you in this matter, other people are aware of your issue and will pop in as soon as they can

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Whether you will get a custodial sentence will depend on many factors, such as previous offences. I don't think anyone can say for sure what will happen.


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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Hi Miss Sparkles.

    You won't be able to use the duty solicitor at the court unless you qualify for legal aid.

    The prosecution will read out the charges. You will be asked to enter a plea. If you plead guilty, you will be given the opportunity to speak so that you can put forward any mitigation to the court. They will either sentence you there and then, or they will defer sentence to a later date (the word 'sentence' does not necesserily mean prison - it can be any form of penalty such as a fine, community service etc). If you plead not guilty, they will need to arrange a date for pre-trial review and the trial itself and there will be no outcome on Tueday (unless of course Tueday is the trial date).

    EDIT: I see from your other thread that you are worried about going to prison. Although we cannot say for certain what the outcome would be, your solicitor (or former solicitor) has stated that it is unlikely. He has said it's unlikey rather than it's definately not going to happen because a solicitor, like us, is not able to give a guarantee of what an outcome will be - but they can guesstimate it far more appropriately that we can, given that he has access to relevant and admissible information about the case, which we don't have. His opinion that prison is unlikely is very reassuring.

    If you are still pleading guilty: (you say this in your other thread but may have changed your mind since, if so, ignore this). If you are pleading guilty, do try and say something when you are given an opportunity to speak, to mitigate yourself.

    You could say something along the lines of that you have been compliant with the benefit office, admitting your guilt and that you agreed a repayment planicon without hesitation. You could tell them about your cirumstances and explain why you did it .You could express remorse and say what effect the investigation has had on your life and what you have learned from the experience.
    Important things to mention are if you were under exceptional financial pressure - and explain what this was. It's also very important that if your claim was not fraudulent from the beginning that you mention this.

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

    Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.
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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Agree with Erika.
    Proceedings are pretty formal,and this is the type of case they will prob be seeing regular.
    Magistrates are appointed from the community so they could be teachers,businessmen or even councillors.
    Giving your co-operation earlier and admitting this will count for a lot.
    Just go there and be prepared to answer any questions.
    You should be ok and dont be afraid to question anything you dont understand.
    Address women as maam and guys as your worship.

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  12. #12
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Erika-thanks so much for your advice the article was very useful i am very grateful if i could just ask a couple of questions-would i not find out on tues what my fate is so to speak? i.e if they adjourn for sentencing will i have to wait again to find out or will they still tell me on tues and then i just return to be sentenced? how likely is it that they will deal with it in full on tues?

    regarding the duty solicitor,when i spoke with my ex solicitor he said as i cant get legal aid that i should ask for the duty solicitor on the day,is this wrong?

    it sonds as though i will have to do quite a lot of speaking from what i gather reading the replies,I am really worried,and hoped that tues would be the end of it all,I really hope that it dosnt get adjourned

    Thanks for all your help


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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    a
    Adjournments at Magistrates Courts normally happen for social or probation reports,if you have had no previous dealings with probation or social workers then this is unlikely tohappen.
    There is no harm asking to see the duty Solicitor when you goto Court,but they will only represent you if you are qualifying -there has been changes to entitlements of late.

    I think what will happen is that this will be dealt with on the day.
    The Magistrates will hear the charges and then you will be asked to enter a plea.
    The prosecution will be asked for any previous etc.
    At this point usually the acting Solicitor will mitigate a defence.
    So this is your chance to put forward your response.

    1 That your actions were wrong but done so out of desperation or hardship.

    2.That you held up your hands when found out and admitted what you did.

    3.That you are prepared repay all of it back (if you have a figure say so and at what intervals)

    4 That you will never repeat this again.

    The Clerk to the Court sits in the middle in the lower area to the Magistrates it ishe/she who will advise and liase on what sentencing powers are available.

    I think there will be an adjournment where the Magistrates will retire to consider this-can be anything from 10 mins to 30.

    You will then be told what they have decided and asked if you understand.
    In the case of a fine they will ask when you can make first payment.

    Anything else will be explained.

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  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Default

    Hello Martin and thanks for your advice it does make things clearer and i will be following what you say.
    hopefully you are right about it being dealt with tommorrow,i havnt ever had any dealings with probation etc before so fingers crossed..
    if they decide on a cusdodial would i go to prison tommorrow?
    also should i dress smartly? i want them to know i am taking it seriously.
    Thanks


  15. #15
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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Yes, do arrive looking smart and tidy.

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Quote Originally Posted by misssparkle View Post

    regarding the duty solicitor,when i spoke with my ex solicitor he said as i cant get legal aid that i should ask for the duty solicitor on the day,is this wrong?
    Martin and CitizenB have answered most of your queries so I'm only going to address this part.

    The requirements for the use of a duty solicitor may have changed. I also live in Scotland where the procedure will differ. I'd suggest that to give yourself the best chance, you should ask about the duty solicitor and whether you can use him/her - worst case scenario is that (s)he won't be in a position to help, best case scenario they will be able to help. I would hate to think that you didn't ask and it turned out you could use one.

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Dont think of prison-think of a new start with this behind you.
    We will be rooting for you-please dont forget to come back and update.

    Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.
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  18. #18
    Basic Account Holder misssparkle Novitiate

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    Erika..thanks so much i will ask to see the duty solicitor.
    CitizenB..I will be sure to turn up smart,i was unsure what they expect and didnt want them to think i was trying too much if you see what i mean.
    Martin..your words have been so kind and reassuring,i am humbled thank you so so much I will be sure to come back and let you know the outcome...I am trying very hard not to think about prison,but its all I can think about.
    Thanks for listening and taking the time to reply.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Quote Originally Posted by misssparkle View Post
    Erika..thanks so much i will ask to see the duty solicitor.
    CitizenB..I will be sure to turn up smart,i was unsure what they expect and didnt want them to think i was trying too much if you see what i mean.
    Martin..your words have been so kind and reassuring,i am humbled thank you so so much I will be sure to come back and let you know the outcome...I am trying very hard not to think about prison,but its all I can think about.
    Thanks for listening and taking the time to reply

    .
    Yes, I do understand, as long as you dont hire a designer dress, or turn up in tatty jeans, then I am sure you will look just fine

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    Default Re: advice on magistrates court hearing for benefit fraud

    Prison is very, very, very unikely!

    Trust me. I've seen many cases of fraud and alleged fraud. Yours isn't one that screams prison to me in the slightest. It can happen but in view of what you have described in your other thread I sincerely doubt it. Just make sure you get all the points I talked about across (or mention them to the duty solicitor if they will be representing you).

    I hate, and I mean absolutely despise lambs liver. Can't touch it without wearing gloves and picking it up with a utensil at arms length, if I am forced to cook it for someone else and I feel nauseous just smelling the stuff. If you go to prison, I'll eat liver. I'm fairly confident I won't be eating that liver, because tomorrow you are going to come back and tell us how you got on. (please do come back and tell us how you got on - please don't make me eat that stuff just for a laugh).


    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

    Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.
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