Every case depends upon its own facts and
circumstances and the personalities in the court where your case
will be heard. For an informed discussion and advice on what you may
expect by way of sentence in your own case just call us on 0800 612
9597 or go online to
There are no sentencing guidelines
currently in existence in .
In other jurisdictions like
the Magistrates are issued with guidance on sentencing.
Sentencing is a matter for the judge
at first instance, who will consider each case on its own merits.
The judge’s discretion is tempered by
statute – which may provide for particular sentencing options, and
occasionally, mandatory sentences – and the decisions of the .
Section 197 of the 1995 Act, headed,
“Sentencing Guidelines”, provides: “Without prejudice to any rule of
law, a court in passing sentence shall have regard to any relevant
opinion pronounced under section 118(7) or section 189(7) of this
Act”. Sections 118(7) and 189(7) empower the ,
when disposing both solemn
and summary appeals, to pronounce
an opinion on the sentence or other disposal or order which is appropriate in any similar
has apparently seldom used this power to issue “advisory judgments”
on sentencing matters.
The sentencing system in
has the advantage of being flexible and fair: each sentence will be
tailored to the specific circumstances of the offence and the
offender. The sentencing process is wholly undertaken by an
independent judge who will have heard all the relevant evidence.
Recent research has found that
although there is little evidence of widespread inconsistency in
sentencing in ,
there is nonetheless a general perception of inconsistency.
Consistency in sentencing is seen as
an essential part of fairness and justice: “like cases should be
treated alike”. Consistent sentencing which is transparent and
predictable is said to be important to maintain public confidence in
the justice system. It also allows practitioners to provide better
advice to their clients.
The Scottish Government has produced
a consultation paper,
Sentencing Guidelines and a Scottish Sentencing Council:
Consultation and Proposals (September 2008) in which the
establishment of a statutory sentencing advisory body – a Scottish
Sentencing Council (SSC) – is proposed. The
SSC’s main function would be to prepare draft sentencing
guidelines for approval by the .
Consultation closes on .
This paper followed a report by The Sentencing Commission for ,
The Scope to Improve
Consistency in Sentencing (2006), which had made similar
Position In England
The Sentence Guidelines Council (SGC),
advised by the Sentencing Advisory Panel, is responsible under the
Criminal Justice Act 2003 for producing sentencing guidelines.
Before the SGC was established, the Court of Appeal had
responsibility for producing sentencing guidance.
Guidelines are produced for
particular offences and classes of offences as well as on
overarching principles, and issues such as reduction in sentence for
a plea of guilty.
Road Traffic Offences
Most of the relevant SGC guidance on
road traffic matters is contained in the current Magistrates’
Guidelines (also produced by the SGC), which has a section on
motoring offences (pp 117-140).
Each offence (or class of offence)
has its own separate guideline which charts the reasoning process
that magistrates should follow when sentencing as well as giving a
suggested appropriate range of sentences depending on the
circumstances of the particular offence.
The guidelines are generally
structured as follows:
Name of offence and statutory provision
Statement of statutory minimum or maximum; whether statute provides
any mandatory sentence
Reasoning process to be followed
Form preliminary view of the
Appropriate starting point
Circumstances of the offence –
starting point – range
Effect of aggravating/mitigating
Non-exhaustive lists of factors
indicating higher or lower culpability
Consider offender mitigation
(circumstances of offender)
Consider guilty plea reduction
Consider ancillary orders
Decide sentence and give reasons
The full version of the Guidelines is
Magistrates’ Guidelines – Road Traffic Offences
following tables are extracted from the current Guidelines and show
starting points and ranges for common road traffic offences
according to the circumstances of the offence. They do not reproduce
the guideline for any particular offence in full. Reference is made
to bands of fines: the approach to financial penalties is dealt with
in detail in the Guidelines at pp 147 et seq.
Excess alcohol (drive/attempt to
drive) (s 5(1)(a) RTA 1988)
Dangerous driving (s 2 RTA 1988)
(s 89(10) RTRA 1984)