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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have been arrested and charged with theft from employer.

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I have been arrested and charged with theft from employer over a period of 20 months what sort of sentence will I get?


Thank you for your question and welcome to JustAnswer. I will try to help with this.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I work for a claims company and paid money into my bank account on 13 occasions between October2010 and June 2012 totaling 9000 pounds.
I have admitted to doing this and accepted guilt to the police. I now have to go to court next month for sentencing but it is a magistrate’s court.

I intend to pay all the money back before I go to court.
I took the money because I was in a lot of debt to payday loan companies and had credit card debts.

This has ruined my family and I really don’t want to be sent to prison.

I presume that you are waiting for a first appearance at the Magistrates Court?
You haven't been to court before on this?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes I was arrested on Friday and taken to the police station. They advised the case would not be sent to the crown court. I have never been in trouble before and have no criminal past.
I am being charged for 13 different counts of theft under the fraud act.

Have you admitted the full amount?
I suppose you didn't have a solicitor at the police station?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I did get a legal aid solicitor and he said it was good that it wasn’t sent to crown court.

I have admitted the full amount; it was unsophisticated theft as it was the same bank account my wages go into so I was always going to get caught.
It was a stupid thing I did and has ruined my life, future prospects and my family is not talking to me.

Who said it isn't going to the Crown Court? It probably is I'm afraid although it’s not at all a bad thing to be in the Crown Court.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The police officer said that case would be applied to magistrate’s court.

This will go before the Magistrates for first appearance. All cases do. They will decide upon jurisdiction. They may keep it. They may send it to the Crown Court. If this is a theft from employer of £9,000 and it was committed over a period of some 20 months then I'm afraid I would expect it to go to the Crown Court although you are much better off being sentenced there than by the Magistrates generally.

I'm really sorry but you are at risk of custody. This is theft from employer which hugely aggravates the offence of theft because of the breach of trust. It’s a reasonable sum as well and you cannot hide from that. Also there are a fair number of transactions so it was over a period of time which is a further aggravating feature.

Your guilty plea will reduce any sentence by one third. If you pay the money back then that will be helpful. Also, I imagine you are of good character which is helpful in principle although with theft from employer often counts for little because most of such defendants are of good character.

The damage to your employment prospects will be taken into account though.

The sentencing guidelines for a theft of between £2000 and £20,000 say the starting point is 18 weeks custody and the range is a high level community order to 12 months custody.

You are right in the middle of the guidelines so I would expect the starting point to be custody from which they will have to remove a third to reflect your guilty plea. Adding the aggravating features and the mitigating ones you would probably end up at the same place roughly.

Then the question is just whether or not another sentence feels than custody is appropriate. It is often avoided on a first offence. The guideline case does involve a man who stole slightly less than you and got custody but his employers were quite vulnerable and he used it for fairly dissolute purposes. Also it was a long time ago so the courts usually note that when passing sentence.

Even if they are resolute on sentence though they could always suspend it and impose an unpaid work order as a requirement.

Overall, there is a risk of custody and it would be irresponsible of me to tell you there is not but you would probably avoid it.

Sorry that’s probably not the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Jo C. and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you