What is a 'criminal lifestyle'?

Frequently a convicted defendant will be shocked by reading that he has a 'criminal lifestyle'. The assertion may be found in a prosecutor's s16 statement in confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in England and Wales. The defendant may think he is being accused of being a career criminal - or even a gangster like Al Capone. The reality is rather different.

But who has a 'criminal lifestyle'? What are the implications of a 'criminal lifestyle'?

I have written a new blog article describing the criteria for a finding that a convicted defendant has a 'criminal lifestyle' in Crown Court confiscation proceedings.

Perhaps surprisingly, some of the offences which the authorities regard as proving a 'criminal lifestyle' are business related.  For example selling, or offering for sale, 'fake' trade-marked goods such as phoney 'Levi' jeans, 'Adidas' trainers or 'Chanel' perfumes.  Not to mention other, more obviously illegal businesses - such as drug trafficking and brothel keeping!

And would you think that a person on benefits who failed to notify their local authority of a change in circumstances could be considered to have a 'criminal lifestyle' for that reason?

Of course a finding that a person has a 'criminal lifestyle' triggers the statutory assumptions of s10 regarding that person's benefit for confiscation purposes - which can have dramatic results!

If you're interested in this topic you can find the article HERE.

David

Comments
Caber Feidh's picture

Could overstating an insurance claim be a criminal lifestyle?

Caber Feidh | | Permalink

Route 3 to a criminal lifestyle, in your linked article on a "Criminal lifestyle in confiscation", refers to  being "convicted of an offence of any type carried out over a period of at least six months from which he has obtained a benefit of at least £5,000."

Does this mean that overstating an insurance claim could lead to a criminal lifestyle? Or would that depend on the type of insurance, eg professional indemnity, legal expenses, medical, motoring or property? Perhaps I should add that I do not have a personal interest in this.

 

davidwinch's picture

Six months?    1 thanks

davidwinch | | Permalink

I don't understand how overstating an insurance claim could be a continuing offence over at least six months.

If, for example, one fails to declare to HMRC that one has income which should be subject to self-assessment and that failure continues over at least six months (i.e. the declaration is made at least six months late - or not made at all) then that is a continuing offence carried on over at least six months.  See this article.

But if I claim that I have broken my calculator pressing finger and have therefore been unable to work for, say, 12 months and so claim on an accident insurance policy I would expect to make only one (false and dishonest) claim.  So the offence only occurs on one day (the day I make the false claim).  That is not an offence carried out over a period of at least six months.

Thinking aloud, if I had submitted a claim every week over a period then that could be a single offence carried out over at least six months (or I could be charged with a separate count of fraud for each weekly claim form and that would give me a criminal lifestyle by a different route described in the article to which you refer).

David

Caber Feidh's picture

Six months does seem possible, in many circumstances.

Caber Feidh | | Permalink

My concept was that a fraudulent property insurance claim would, almost always, be a continuing offence that required a sequence of fraudulent actions. For example, the fraudulent initial claim, subsequent falsehoods in correspondence with the insurer, misleading the claims adjustor, perhaps more correspondence, and then banking the ill-gotten gains. Could that be completed in less than six months?

A claim on legal expenses insurance might be different in that it could involve just one initial fraud but result in a series of payments. As I understand such matters, a legal expenses insurer will require a solicitor’s or barrister’s opinion that the insured has at least a 51% prospect of success in Court. Thus, either the insured has to be able to dupe his solicitor/barrister or they have to be complicit (or unreasonably optimistic) in telling the insurer that the insured’s prospects are adequate, even when they are not. This would then lead to the insurer making a sequence of payments of fees to the solicitor and disbursements to the barrister, possibly spread over years rather than just six months.

I have a foreboding that David will not agree with me.

davidwinch's picture

Not out of the question    1 thanks

davidwinch | | Permalink

On reflection I would say I have some sympathy with Caber Feidh (whilst being lost in admiration for his / her cogency at 4 in the morning!).

One would have to look carefully at the facts of what happened, exactly what criminal conduct was alleged, and what was on the indictment.

It may not be easy to say whether or not the criminal conduct of which the defendant was convicted continued over at least six months.

I feel that - a bit like questions of employment v self-employment - there is no single litmus paper test which decides the issue.

For example an employee submitted a false CV to obtain employment, which he held for some years.  I would have classed that as a single fraudulent misrepresentation made on one day - but the court held that there was a continuing misrepresentation during the entire period of employment, which resulted in a finding of 'criminal lifestyle'.

Or consider the case of a conspiracy between X, Y and Z.  All three of them may be convicted of, say, conspiring between 10 March and 31 October to do some criminal act (such as a ponzi fraud).  But in confiscation proceedings against, say, Z one would have to examine his role and decide whether he personally had been involved in the conspiracy for at least six months.  The wording of the count of which he had been convicted would not itself be conclusive.

Does that help - or just add to the confusion?

David

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