Offences of Dishonesty

Offences of dishonesty are often particularly worrying - since conviction can have far reaching effects in terms of employment and even credit.

 

There are many, many offences that involve an element of dishonesty.  Theft, Fraud, Benefit Fraud, Burglary, Abstracting Electricity, Making Off Without Payment, and Handling Stolen Goods to name a few.

 

The test for dishonesty was formerly the test from the case of R v Ghosh [1982] EWCA Crim 2, in which the Magistrates or Jury were to decide first, whether the conduct complained of was dishonest by the lay objective standard of ordinary reasonable and honest people.  If the answer to that question was yes, the Magistrates or Jury were to decide second, that the defendant must have realised that ordinary honest people would regard his behaviour as dishonest. 

 

In the case of Ivey in 2017, the Supreme Court stated that the second limb of the Ghosh test (i.e. that the defendant must have realised that ordinary honest people would regard his behaviour as dishonest) is no longer good law.

 

This was a civil case and the comment was 'obiter dictum,' (i.e. comment as opposed to the rule in the case) but recent rulings in the Court of Appeal (in criminal cases) suggest the Court of Appeal now favours this definition in favour of the Ghosh test.  The law is constanty evolving, but the best statement of the current situation is that Ivey now states the test for dishonesty correctly.

 

The test for dishonesty is now 'Whether the conduct complained of was dishonest by the lay objective standard of ordinary reasonable and honest people.'  For a lawyer, there is some considerable negative comment that could be made about this test (not least of all that what is 'reasonable and honest,' for a 12 year old might differ considerably to what is 'reasonable and honest,' to a 50 year old businessman.'  Defendants might find themselves in a position where they are convicted of an offence for behaviour they genuinely believed to be 'reasonable and honest,' because their view of the world is considerably different to the Magistrates or the Jury. Criminalisation ought not follow in those circumstances.  Under the test in Ivey however, it will.

 

In any event, offences of dishonesty require expert consideration.

 

Coral Fitzgerald has represented clients in literally hundreds of dishonesty cases. Only a few examples are noted below. If you face an offence of dishonesty and want expert advice, give Coral Fitzgerald a call on 07790 356069.

 

(1) (Crown Court) Allegation of fraud in keeping benefits paid into client's account (at the behest of the complainant).  Client acquitted (despite admission of certain previous similar matters).  Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator / Mitch Cohen as Counsel.

 

(2) (Crown Court) Allegation of Handling stolen Goods relating to a watch purchased from a third party and advertised on e-bay.  Matter discontinued by the Prosecution in the Crown Court.  Coral Fitzgerald as litigator / Mitch Cohen as Counsel.

 

(3) (Magistrates Court) Guilty Plea to matter of shoplifting for client with previous convictions for the same.  Absolute Discharge secured after mitigation, which demonstrated the behaviour coincided with the anniversary of a child's death. (Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator and advocate)

 

(4) (Magistrates Court) Acquittal for youth client facing a charge of handling stolen goods.  The goods in question were a bicycle he had purchased from his friend.  Acquitted on the basis of no dishonesty. (Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator and Advocate)

 

(5) (Crown Court) Matter of Handling Stolen Goods.  Related to goods purchased at a boot sale and advertised for sale online.  Acquitted following trial.  (Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator / Mitch Cohen as Counsel).

 

(6) No Further Action taken in a case involving fraud by misrepresentation relating to the sale of diamonds. (Coral Fitzgerald)

 

(7) (Magistrates Court) £28,000 theft from employer.  Guilty plea entered.  Custodial Sentence imposed but suspended.  (Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator and Advocate).

 

(8) (Crown Court) Robbery and False Imprisonment.  Matter taken to trial but CCTV served on the morning of the trial reveals overwhelming evidence.  Immediate custody avoided nonetheless.  (Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator / Mitch Cohen as Trial Counsel)

 

(9) Accusation of fraud and false accounting totalling many thousands of pounds.  Acquittal on all charges (Coral Fitzgerald as Litigator / Mitch Cohen as Trial Counsel).

 

(10) Substantial Benefit Fraud case.  All charges discontinued by the Prosecution following representations as to the elements of the offence and the tenuous nature of their evidence on those points (Coral Fitzgerald as litigator).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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