Following these guidelines When sentencing an offender, every court is under a statutory obligation to follow any relevant sentencing guideline unless it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so (Sentencing Code, s.59(1)). If a court imposes a sentence outside the range indicated in an offence specific guideline, it is obliged to state its reasons for doing so (Sentencing Code, s.52(6)).
When to use these guidelines
- These guidelines apply to sentencing in a magistrates’ court whatever the composition of the court. They cover offences for which sentences are frequently imposed in a magistrates’ court when dealing with adult offenders.
- They also apply to allocation (mode of trial) decisions. When dealing with an either way offence for which there is no plea or an indication of a not guilty plea, these guidelines will be relevant to the allocation decision and should be consulted at this stage to assess the likely sentence. Reference should be made to the Allocation guideline.
- These guidelines apply also to the Crown Court when dealing with appeals against sentences imposed in a magistrates’ court and when sentencing for summary only offences.