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Offences relating to state benefits

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There are two main offences that are prosecuted in relation to state benefits:

  1. The dishonest offence

It is an offence to dishonestly make a representation in order to obtain benefit, and this includes a dishonest failure to promptly notify a change in circumstances as well as making a claim that is dishonest from the outset.

  1. The offence without dishonesty

It is an offence to knowingly make a false statement to obtain benefit, again this can be in an initial claim for benefits or failing to give prompt notification of a change in circumstances.

What is the likely sentence?

The offence involving dishonesty can be dealt with at the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court and carries a maximum of seven years imprisonment.

The non-dishonest offence can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court and carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 months.

The main factors when considering sentencing will be the value of benefits overpaid, whether or not the claim was dishonest from the outset, and, the length of time of the overpayment.

A dishonest claim over a sustained period of time and that is of high value is more likely to attract a term of imprisonment.


Our team at Emery Johnson Astills we specialise in Criminal Defence and will be able to advise you on the merits of your case and prepare an effective argument on your behalf.

Prosecutions for benefit fraud generate a large amount of paperwork which our team have a great deal of experience in considering. We regularly make successful arguments on behalf of our clients, and, our involvement may mean a lesser value is given to the overpayment which can have a direct impact on the potential sentence.

For further information and advice in relation to offences relating to state benefits please contact the Criminal Defence team in Leicester on 0116 2554855, or in Loughborough on 01509 610312.

With offices in Leicester and Loughborough you can contact your nearest office and speak to one of our lawyers.

We are also able to advise and assist you during any DWP interview with fraud investigators.

For more information on the members of the Crime Team at Emery Johnson Astills please visit our people page.