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Streamlined Sentencing Code to be introduced

A new Sentencing Code introduced by the Sentencing Act 2020 will come into force on 1 December 2020.  The new Code will simplify and consolidate over 1,000 pages of current law and procedure that Magistrates and Judges have to apply when sentencing a defendant.

The aim of the Sentencing Code is to make the process simpler and easier to use, to increase public confidence in the criminal justice and to increase the efficiency of the process.  It will provide a single point of reference as opposed to having to consult numerous statutes, legal texts and authorities in a fragmentary fashion.  It does not introduce any new substantive laws or alter the maximum penalties for any offence.

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland QC said about the new Code, “This is a generational moment. As a former Recorder, I know how hard it can be for judges and practitioners to apply such complex laws.  The new Sentencing Code will help provide much needed clarity, reducing errors and restoring faith that the law is being applied correctly.

The Sentencing Code contains 416 clauses and 28 schedules broken down into five sections (Parts).  The Parts deal chronologically with a sentencing hearing.  The ‘Third Group of Parts’ dealing with sentencing disposals and list the options increasing in severity from an absolute/conditional discharge through to custodial sentences.

It is hoped that a more consolidated approach to sentencing will result in fewer anomalies and unjust mistakes occurring.

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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.