Sentence guidelines

You will be sentenced if either you have pleaded guilty to an offence or have been found guilty of it at trial. If you have been convicted at the Magistrates’ Court the magistrates will usually sentence you unless in certain cases they think their sentencing powers are insufficient and will commit your case to the crown court for sentence.

If you have been convicted in the Crown Court, you will be sentenced in the Crown Court. In whichever court you are sentenced in, the Magistrates or the Crown Court judge will take into account a number of different factors including: the nature of the offence; the maximum sentence for that offence; anything specific to your case which makes it more serious (aggravating features) or that makes it less serious (mitigating features); whether you pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial; your personal circumstances; any previous convictions you may have and any sentence guidelines that relate to your offence/s.

Sentence guidelines are issued by the Sentencing Council. They are an independent non departmental public body within the Ministry of Justice. For offences committed on or after the 6th April 2010 the court must apply the guidelines unless it would not be in the interests of justice to do so.

The guidelines are based on someone who has no previous convictions and has been found guilty at trial. If you plead guilty at the first opportunity in most cases you will be entitled to a discount of one third from the appropriate sentence; for example, if you were convicted after a trial and received a custodial sentence of 9 months, if you had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, you would have instead received a 6 month custodial sentence.

If you have been accused of an offence and want to know what sentence you are likely to receive.

you can view the guidelines here

Another great resource for you to look at is the Crown Prosecution Service website, they have compiled an extensive guide to sentence for most offences.

You can view the CPS guide here

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