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court hearing - do i need a lawyer if I have to pay him £4000 for my case?


albin
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Benefit fraud - do i need a lawyer?

I have to go to court at the beginning of february charghed with benefit fraud. In the IUC I admitted there has been an overpayment of £16,000 income support and said I would pay it back. I have already put in place direct debits to pay it all back... My mitigating circustances are that I have been deeply in depression and on long term heavy medications (11 years) and I just did not give a damn about what happened to my life, i was living with rats, never washing myself or cleaning my home, etc... for a period of 3 years. I have not used this overpayment for anything or to buy anything or lead a glamorous lifestyle at all. I was just too ill/irrespsonisble to tell them to stop paying me...

I will not be getting legal aid - because of an inheritance - (not much but above the limit) so I wonder if it is worth hiring a lawyer for me to just plead guilty and say the above to the court in mitigation as I was asked £4,000 by one lawyer.

If I had to hire a lawyer should I hire him to take up the whole case or just to come to court with me?

I'd be grateful for any suggestions, especially if they were ASAP.

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Hello there and welcome to CAG.

 

I'll see if I can find you some help, but hopefully the guys will be around later with comments for you.

 

Is the lawyer a specialist in this type of case?

 

My best, HB

 

 

the lawyer came across as specialist on crime, not particularly on benefit fraud. He advised me I should just turn up in court and say I am guilty (as there is evidence on my bank statements that I had not reported my capital or changes in it which was over £16,000 - some of this money came from my sister - but how can I prove it? She is dead now and I have nothing in paper about it that comes from her). The laywer said he would then say something mitigating, but if this is all he will do, can't this be done by myself and spare myself to pay his fees? Am I being stupid to think this way?

 

Obviously the prosecution will try to prove I acted dishonestly - which is not the case as my mind was not in a state to bother about what was going on - and I am not aware of what the lawyer might do to contrast that. As he said I would have just to plead guilty why would I need him?

Edited by albin
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Hi albin

 

I think the best thing is to get some free advise from solicitors, you've also got CAB who should be able to help.

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Hello again.

 

I don't know enough about benefit fraud cases to comment, but there are people here who know. There may be another thread with a similar problem here, I'll have a look and post you a link if I find anything.

 

Have you spoken to your local CAB? I believe they see quite a lot of this sort of thing and they should have legal contacts if they feel you need someone.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Now I recollect I went to CAB in my area a few months ago for the IUC... All they could do was give me a list of local lawyers, amongst which there was this lawyer who is asking for £4000. However he did not come to the interview as he seemed busy with other cases but sent an assistant his. The interview was done with legal aid. But now I would have to pay him because my capital is over the limit.

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Am I stuck with the lawyer or lawyers' firm who was present at my iuc for my forthcoming court hearing or I can choose another lawyer/solicitor?

A lawyer was with me at the iuc, for which he made me sign a legal aid form.

NOw I have a hearing coming up, am I obliged to stick with this lawyer or that legal form I signed with him was limited to just the iuc?... There is the fact that I might not be entitlted to legal aid for the hearing.

In other words does signing the legal aid form you sign with a lawyer who comes with you at the IUC ties you up with the same lawyer also for the court hearing?... Keep in mind that between the iuc and the hearing have passed six or seven months... As far as legal aid is concerned are the IUC and the court case ONE thing or TWO separate things?

Grateful for any response.

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Does depend on the small print. Although the form was probably just the standard form to apply for legal aid. If you haven't reached court yet, I THINK you can change your solicitor. If you had already had your first hearing for instance you tend to have to apply to be able to change your solicitor & give a reason why. Do you not remember if you signed the forms for them to represent you in court or just to attend the IUC? Although I didn't know legal aid covered just IUC's gotta admit.

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There is no small print. The lawyer made me sign a form for IUC and he did not give me a copy. So maybe it was just for the IUC. If it was for legal aid for the whole case wouldn't he have given me a copy of the legal aid contract?

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Hello there.

 

Did you have a client agreement with the solicitor? Normally you would have a document saying what the lawyer understood they were advising you on, a copy for each of you, but I don't know about legal aid cases. It might be worth asking for a copy so you can check it over.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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honeybee,

I do not recall any agreement in writing with the lawyer of which I was given a copy. When I asked the lawyer to help me with the iuc I seem to recall the solicitor made me sign a legal aid form and kept it himself. We talked about his eventual fees for the whole case but he never put them in writing. I don't think he gave me any documents about this.... Also I assume he could not have made a lawyer agreement with me as at the time there was no certainty that there would be a court hearing and when.

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  • 4 weeks later...

WHAT I am asking help and enlightenment about in this present thread is the following. The charge of dishonest fraud is based on my original A1 income support form which I filled with the help of Jobplus staff.

However in the court papers I have been sent the A1 income support form is missing half of its pages, including the page about savings and capital. I had a letter from the prosecution saying they are aware the form is not complete and looking into it... My question to posters here who have experienced something similar or have knowledge of this kind of situation, is this, can the prosecution go ahead if they DWP lack or have mislaid half of this form containing information I gave about the capital and savings as well other things like the space where one can write other reasons and signature, etc.?

 

Grateful for your contributions

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  • 1 month later...

I have been found guilty of benefit fraud for not declaring capital.

I was convicted to 2 years conditional discharge. Please keep in mind I had already paid before thetrial any overpayment and do not owe any money whatsoever to the DWP.

At the trial I maintained that the money over the capital belonged to my sister, given to me in trust. The magistrates court with only a judge presiding at the trial said in her summing up she found me guilty because: I did not tick the box in the capital and savings page of the income support application form where it says "have you got any money in trust."...

No evidence was presented by the prosecution that the money was not my sister's; I always maintained at the interview under caution that it belonged to my sister. Never at the trial the prosecution contested that the money did not belong to my sister. At the trial I was representing myself - which was a mistake but it is too late now for that.

I am thinking of appealing against the conviction.

Have any of you experience of such a situation? And would an appeal be worth it? Is no other evidence than just me not ticking a box evidence enough to convict me?

I'd be very grateful fgor your comments.

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I was not disputing the overpayment. I was disputing the charge that i had "knowingly" made a false statement. Ie that the reason I did not declare the capital over the limit allwoed was it because if belonged to my sister.

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You would have needed to prove it was your sisters, and if it was your sisters and you could prove it there wouldn't be an overpayment.

 

So if you can prove it's your sisters then maybe a chance of an appeal.

 

If you can't, then I can't see any chance of of getting the decision overturned.

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In the judge's summing up why I was guilty there was no mention of the iuc, simply that I did not tick the box.

I told the judge the money belonged to my sister and why and how I got it and the judgde did not say anything about me not proving the money belonged to my sister in her summing up why I was guilty. She said just I did not tick the box.

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If everything is in your name I dont think you stand much chance on an appeal, to be fair if the money was your sisters and was being held in trust then it should have been in a seperate account and you should have legal docs setting up a trust.

  • Confused 1

If I have been of any help, please click on my star and let me know, thank you.

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Hi O/P,

You got a 2yr CD, which is ‘spent’ after 2 years (obviously). What impact has it actually had on your day-to-day life, if any? For example, do you, or do you ever expect to, have to undergo CRB checks (of the type that would reveal spent convictions) for employment and such?

I understand it’s not nice to be branded a ‘criminal’, especially if you maintain your innocence, but you probably understand that by appealing your sentence, you do in fact run the risk of it being increased, if matters don’t go in your favour.

A CD is one of the lightest sentences that can be passed. The choice is of course yours and yours alone, but if this conviction doesn’t rear its ugly head as far as tangible impacts on your life go, then I would personally let it pass, and brush it under the carpet…

  • Confused 1
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If everything is in your name I dont think you stand much chance on an appeal, to be fair if the money was your sisters and was being held in trust then it should have been in a seperate account and you should have legal docs setting up a trust.

 

If it had been done as you say I would not be posting this problem obviously... If I had proof of everything I would not have started the thread either... I had had ticked the box or I had never claimed income support I would not be in this forum at all. I am grateful for any comment but comments of this kind are not helpful to what I am looking for here...

 

The question is if by just not ticking the box -saying do you have any money in trust - is enough for a judge to conclude I made a false statement. I think Rogerblack in the moneysaving expert forum where I also posted this thread in his post said it might be not... Now, I would be grateful if readers would focus on this problem if they have any knowledge of it. This is where I need help.

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