Allocation Guidance - What’s New for Criminal Lawyers
This webinar is a must for those involved with the criminal justice process.
It is a good time to revisit the Allocation Guidelines published by the Sentencing Council on 1 March 2016 in light of the document published by the Justices’ Legal Advisers’ and Court Officers’ Service (formerly the Justices’ Clerks’ Society) in February 2021. The document is entitled ‘Allocation to the Crown Court Guidance and Good Practice’ and everyone dealing with Magistrates’ Court cases needs a thorough understanding of the advice that will be given to the magistrates by their legal advisers in the area of allocation.
District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) may also find that they are asked to consider allocation issues slightly differently from how they did in the past and may find themselves accepting jurisdiction in circumstances that would never previously have occurred.
What You Will Learn
This webinar will cover the following:
- The reasons behind the publication of the February guidance by the JCS
- Appreciating the point that the court is NOT obliged to take the prosecution’s case at its highest
- Advising trial on indictment where the sentence would be significantly in excess of the court’s powers
- Is the category range in the sentencing guideline significantly outside a magistrates’ court level sentence? - Generally ‘yes’ if the lower end of the range is at last 18 months
- For youths the answer is generally ‘yes’ if the lower end is more than 3 years
- If, however, the answer is ‘no’ then jurisdiction should be retained
- Borderline cases - other factors for consideration - the age of the offender - vulnerable victim or defendant (including joint trials of adults and youths)
- Should the community order type of case be retained or sent? - Consider the great disparity between the sentencing options on a breach
- Concurrent or consecutive sentences - you might find the guidance rather strange in this area
- Children and young people should, wherever possible, be tried in the youth court - an examination of the important and relevant case-law in this area
- Adults and youths as co-defendants - the courts have approved splitting the trial, particularly if the child is young or had only a minor role at most
- Youth courts now have full powers to commit for sentence following a guilty plea and full powers to commit for sentence following conviction after a trial in the youth court
- Unlimited fines - unlimited powers of compensation - if the only issue is the level of the sentence, the Practice Direction should be followed and jurisdiction should be retained
- Not possible to repair an error under Section 142 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 as at allocation the court is not ‘dealing with an offender’ (defendant has not been convicted)
- Be aware of section 25 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 - the right of the prosecution to apply for the case to be sent even after allocation to the magistrates’ court
This webinar was recorded on 7th July 2021
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