New criminal offences, tougher sentences and measures requiring convicted offenders to pay towards the cost of their court cases have now come into force.
The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which took effect on 13 April, has introduced measures including:
- a ban on cautions for criminals convicted of serious offences and, for less serious offences, ending repeat cautions for anyone who commits the same or similar offence more than once in a two-year period. Serious offenders will instead face being brought before the courts, where they could face a prison sentence
- new fees imposed at the point of conviction, as a contribution by offenders to the costs of running the courts system. The fees range from a minimum of £150 for conviction in the magistrates’ courts on a guilty plea to £1,200 on conviction following a Crown Court trial
- a new criminal offence of revenge porn, with a sentence of up to two years in prison for people convicted of sharing private, sexual images of someone without consent and with the intent to cause distress
- increasing the maximum penalty to two years in prison for online trolls who send abusive messages or material
- creating a new offence of causing serious injury by driving while disqualified, carrying a maximum penalty of four years in prison, and increasing the maximum prison sentence for causing death by disqualified driving to 10 years
- driving disqualifications will be extended so they continue to apply after an offender has left prison.
Palmers’ partner Jeremy Sirrell, who leads the firm’s Criminal Defence team, said: “A criminal conviction for even a fairly minor offence can have far-reaching implications for an individual’s reputation and their professional and personal life and the new fees on conviction create an additional cost at an already difficult time.
“When someone becomes the focus of a police investigation, the early involvement of criminal defence specialists will provide valuable support during detention or questioning.
“By working with clients only on a private basis, we can devote all the time and attention necessary to best advise and represent individuals on police bail or after they have charged, with our focus on achieving the best possible outcome. For more information on our Criminal Defence services, please contact us.”