Sentencing in report spotlight

The body that provides guidance on sentencing has produced a snapshot of sentencing outcomes of Crown Court cases in 2014.

The Sentencing Council carried out research into the relationship between the factors taken into account in sentencing and the final sentence imposed, as part of its work to make sure sentencing guidelines are working properly and to improve understanding of the sentencing process.

It collected information directly from judges and looked at 12 different types of offence, including: arson, burglary, driving and drug offences, offences causing death, robbery, sexual offences, theft and fraud, bribery and money laundering. The findings, published on 26 June, revealed:

  • almost three quarters of offenders pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity
  • of these, 89 per cent received the maximum reduction on their sentence as a result, in line with legal guidance
  • very few sentences were below or above the guideline ranges
  • the more serious the offending, the more likely the offender was to be jailed and for longer
  • the more previous relevant convictions an offender had, or the more aggravating factors an offence had, the more likely they were to be jailed.

While the findings indicate that sentencing reflects current guidelines, the Sentencing Council stressed: “Every criminal case is unique. Although the same factors may be present in two cases of the same offence, the specific circumstances of each case may mean that the factors are not given the same importance in both cases.”

Palmers’ partner Jeremy Sirrell, who leads the firm’s criminal defence team, said: “Not every police investigation leads to a charge, and the involvement of criminal law specialists from the earliest stages can help to avoid a prosecution.

“If a case does proceed, an experienced solicitor will be able to present a robust defence or, in the event of a guilty plea, draw out and present all the mitigating factors, which can make a significant difference to sentencing.

“At Palmers, our criminal defence specialists work with clients only on a private basis. This allows us to dedicate all the time and attention necessary to advising and representing clients, with the aim of achieving the most constructive outcome. For more information on our Criminal Defence services, please contact us.”