How sentences are worked out

“The factors taken into account in each case will vary depending upon the facts.”

In addition to having regard to the five purposes of sentencing, a judge or magistrate will use sentencing guidelines, which set out the process they should follow and the factors they should consider, to work out the appropriate sentence.

For each crime there is a range of sentences available and the judge or magistrates have to decide which type of sentence is right.

Watch this short film of a judge describing how he would sentence a domestic burglary case. (If you cannot view the video you can read the transcript here.)

They will think about, seriousness, harm to the victim, the offender’s level of blame, their criminal record, their personal circumstances and whether they have pleaded guilty.  They will also refer to the law including the maximum, and in some cases minimum, sentence and any sentencing guidelines relevant to the offence committed.

These factors may be relevant in determining the type of sentence as well as the sentence length, requirements or amount. The factors taken into account in each case will vary depending upon the facts of each individual case, but the approach taken by the sentencing judge will be consistent.

For a brief overview of the kinds of factors that influence a sentence, take a look at this short video clip. (If you cannot view the video you can read the transcript here.)

More information about how sentences are worked out can be found in the sentencing guidelines:

You can also find information about sentencing on GOV.UK.