The words ‘serious’ or ‘complex’ are sometimes applied to crimes by law enforcement agencies. What makes these crimes serious or complex and how do they differ from other offences?


What is a serious crime?

There is no single, specific legal definition of what constitutes a serious crime. The Serious Crime Act that came into law in 2015 doesn’t provide a single definition, but it did introduce provisions relating to a number of specific offences and strengthened those in relation to others.

These included crimes such as human trafficking and modern slavery, child sexual exploitation, gang-related offences, forced marriage, cybercrime, and controlling or coercive behaviour.

These offences are considered serious due to a variety of factors, such as the severity of harm caused by the offence. They may result in significant physical, psychological, or financial harm to the victim. The seriousness of the crime may also be reflected in the potential penalties that it carries upon conviction.

Serious crimes are more likely to result in substantial penalties, including lengthy prison terms. A crime may be considered serious because it is of significant public interest, perhaps due to its shocking nature or wider implications. In some cases, the seriousness of a crime may actually refer to its complexity. However, it’s important to remember that not all serious crimes are complex in nature. Some may be fairly straightforward crimes committed by a single individual that has proven straightforward to investigate and prosecute, but their nature and impact are severe.

While the Serious Crime Act 2015 defines certain crimes as serious, other crimes such as murder or serious sexual assault are generally regarded as serious offences and carry significant penalties.


What is a complex crime?

As the name suggests, a complex crime is one that involves a degree of intricacy and complication. These crimes are often multifaceted and may involve a range of individuals or organisations working together towards a common criminal goal. They can involve intricate and sophisticated elements that make them difficult to properly investigate and prosecute. Complex crime investigations may involve agencies such as the Serious Fraud Office or the Serious Crime Agency.

To uncover the full scope of complex crimes will often require specialised knowledge, investigatory powers and resources. They will often have a broader impact beyond what might be considered a straightforward criminal act. Sometimes complex crimes will have an international element and investigations may require transnational cooperation between police and other agencies.

Complex crime can cover a range of criminal activities, including financial fraud involving insider trading, embezzlement, and money laundering. Drug or human trafficking, public corruption, terrorism and large-scale environmental crimes. Increasingly, organised cybercrimes such as hacking, large-scale data breaches and identity theft are regarded as complex crimes due to their technical nature and expertise needed to trace and gather evidence. Organised public corruption, although rare, will usually be regarded as a complex crime. Crimes that feature regulatory compliance, financial regulations and corporate governance are usually complex to investigate and prosecute.

Complex crimes require significant resources and careful investigation to prosecute and secure a conviction. The penalties for complex crimes can vary depending on the degree of involvement an individual had and the nature of the crime. While not all serious crimes will be complex, most complex crimes are generally regarded as serious and there is some overlap.


Serious and complex crime solicitor: What to do if you’re being investigated for a serious or complex crime?

If you find yourself under investigation for a serious or complex crime it’s essential that you seek immediate legal representation from a specialised criminal defence solicitor. They will advise you on how to ensure your rights are safeguarded throughout any investigation, and how best to proceed. It is imperative that you do not tamper with any potential evidence or otherwise seek to influence the outcome of the investigation through conversations with other parties who may be involved.

Your legal team will be alongside you throughout the investigation and subsequent trial. An experienced serious and complex crime defence solicitor will know how best to advise you and put forward your defence that maximises your chances of being acquitted or minimises any potential penalty that may be applied in the event of your being found guilty.


Expert legal advice and support in serious or complex crime cases from Mandla Bhomra

Serious and complex crime cases require sensitive, skilled and knowledgeable handling to ensure a favourable outcome. If you are being investigated or prosecuted in relation to a serious or complex crime it’s important to seek immediate legal advice.

At Mandla Bhomra, our experienced serious and complex crime legal specialists can provide you with discreet professional advice and representation.

Contact our crime solicitors today for confidential advice.

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