How do I avoid a prison sentence?
From the 1st of December 2020, the Courts are required to sentence a defendant in accordance with the provisions of The Sentencing Act 2020, which created the Sentencing Code.
This legislation consolidated the laws and procedures relating to sentencing and, subject to protections against unfair retrospective sentencing, the Code applies to anyone convicted after the 1st of December 2020, regardless of the date of the offence.
Saunders Law has decades of experience defending those at risk of custody.
Historically, a skilful advocate might have relied only on creative and emotive submissions in mitigation to justify a non-custodial sentence, perhaps by reference to a handful of persuasive authorities. Now, sentences must be decided by reference to the Code and specific offence guidelines, produced by the Sentencing Council, to which the Court must have regard; mitigation needs to address the specific factors which dictate the ‘category’ into which a defendant’s sentence falls.
Because of this stricter guidance to the parameters of mitigation and reduced discretion available to the sentencing Judge, pre-sentence preparation by defence lawyers is now more vital than ever.
A thorough understanding of the guidelines and the knowhow to address the relevant factors is key to avoiding a custodial sentence; for example the ‘purposes of sentencing’ is set out within Section 57 the Act, and include ‘punishment, reduction of crime, reform and rehabilitation, protection of the public and reparation’. These are the elements a sentencing judge is required to consider.
Without legal justification, even a sympathetic Judge may feel compelled, on a strict interpretation of the guidelines, to impose a custodial sentence. Consequently, to avoid this, it is crucial that the relevant factors are properly addressed and presented.
We recognise that for many accused or convicted of crime, avoiding a custodial sentence is an absolute priority. By selecting the very best advocates, carefully drafting our submissions and preparation of evidence and bundles in support of the mitigation, we have mastered the art of mitigation and make every effort to achieve the desired results on behalf of our clients.