Magistrates Court Sentencing Powers
Updated: May 3
Section 13 of the Judicial Review And Courts Act 2022 comes into force on the 2nd May 2022. This new legislation allows a Magistrates Court to impose a sentence of 12 months imprisonment for a single offence that is triable either way in place of the current maximum of 6 months imprisonment. This applies for offences committed on/after the 2nd May 2022.
It is clear that the purpose of s13 is an attempt to reduce the amount of cases currently awaiting trial in the Crown Court. Certainly there will be benefits to this change in law for a number of reasons with the most obvious being those clients who are “bang to rights” for cases which are teetering on being committed for sentence will of course be sentenced expeditiously, thus enabling the Magistrates Court to do what it has always been intended to do “provide speedy summary justice”.
In analysing s13, theoretically a client who could be looking at an 18 month custodial sentence on a conviction after trial for relatively serious offences could now be entering a guilty plea and be sentenced in the Magistrates Court after receiving their maximum credit.
Of course dealing with such high stakes in the Magistrates Court would require cases to be prepared fully i.e a full set of papers served by the CPS at the first appearance to advise on the strength of the evidence or the opportunity to have full and frank conversation with prosecutors pre Court hearing to discuss where exactly the matters are placed in the sentencing guidelines (don’t laugh).
However as with every part of the law, there is always a flip side of the coin. Will we be finding more defence advocates advising client to elect where their cases may be deemed suitable for summary trial? As is statistically proven, defendant’s are more likely to be acquitted after a trial by jury in the Crown Court rather than a trial in the Magistrates Court.
With no end in sight on the current no returns action being undertaken by the Criminal Bar Association, we could find ourselves with an even greater backlog of Crown Court cases once these new matters start to reach the Crown Court.
But for now, only time will tell!!
Lartey & Co Solicitor’s provide legal advice in all areas of criminal law. Should you require any advice feel free to contact us on 0208 692 9006 or via our website www.larteyandco.com