Posts Tagged ‘ sentencing ’


THE RISE AND RISE OF THE DEFERRED SENTENCE

Written by admin
May 27th, 2019

Some years ago both Magistrates’ and Crown Court judges were actively dissuaded from deferring sentence. A sentence that was deferred was thought to be a sentence that was taking a price as much of the court’s time as was really necessary. There was a sense that deferring was an indication of weakness or an inability to make a decision.

Happily, in recent times the deferred sentence has seen a considerable resurgence. A deferred sentence gives the courts an opportunity to see what a particular client is made of. By setting goals that the defendant can work towards over a three, four, five, or six month period, a court is able to get the true measure of an individual’s determination or present trajectory.

Sometimes the court will require that a client simply stays out of trouble, on other occasions they will look for appointments to be kept, negative drugs tests to be provided, employment to be found or opportunities to be taken up.

At the point when sentenced is passed, the court will have a very clear sense of whether a particular defendant is somebody with whom the court can work or whom the court can trust with a non-custodial sentencing option.

The return of the deferred sentence is an indication that courts are looking to reach the right decision, rather than just getting the case off their books at the earliest opportunity. There is nothing wrong with those who prefer to defer!

Sensitive Sentencing

Written by admin
January 6th, 2019

It’s a strange fact of legal life that scant regard is often paid to the wishes of the client at sentence.

For many, of course, sentence is the moment for punishment. To ask somebody what punishment they would like seems paradoxical and indeed it often is.

In other circumstances, it is a question of a court administering some “tough love”, which again might not be top of the defendant’s own wish list.

There are of course those occasions when a court can find itself in real difficulty! Some clients will say in terms that they know that they cannot cope with a particular sort of sentence at a particular point in time, however advantageous that sentence may seem to be. The client who needs to detoxify but knows that he or she can only do it behind bars. The client in a long term dispute with his or her partner or parents, who knows that things cannot change quickly enough under a community order to stop them re-offending. The client who just doesn’t want to be living in the only accommodation that is available to them right now and will do anything to get out of it.

There are times when a court just has to sit back and say on this occasion the client knows best. Where a court imposes its own paternalistic or maternalistic desires it can’t behold that court to then be angry and offended when the inevitable breach proceedings are brought.

Lock ups and Lock outs

Written by admin
November 19th, 2018

In a desperate attempt to save Her Majesty’s government a few extra ill-gotten pounds, the MOJ are now consulting on closing the remand courts in Doncaster, Barnsley, Beverly and Grimsby. The only remand courts in South Yorkshire and to the whole of Humberside, would be in Sheffield and Hull.

On the face of it, the considerable expense involved in refurbishments at Barnsley and Doncaster and the installation of video links at all three courts now seems to be for nothing.

The travel to be imposed on families and friends, who want to be present for vital first hearings, subsequent bail applications and hugely important sentencings are a cost that will now have to be met by the poorest members of society rather than the government through the justice system.

If there is anything that can be done to avoid the alienation and injustice that these sorts of closures bring we, at The Johnson Partnership, want to help to do it. We have long felt that it is time that the justice system operated for the benefit of those defendants, the complainants and witnesses who find themselves unwittingly involved in it, rather than its administrators and overlords.

 

BAT CLASS WITH EMMA COVERLEY

Written by Sian Hall
November 25th, 2017

A number of our Partners and colleagues have links to local higher learning institutions.

November 2017 has however seen former full time lecturer Emma Coverley make a guest appearance at Nottingham Trent University.

Emma, who previously taught law at Doncaster College, long before it was absorbed into the academic groves of the University of Huddersfield, was asked to assist with the Nottingham Trent Psychology Masters Course.

An enthusiastic group of twenty students were able to pick Emma’s brains pretty shy of a couple of hours on the practical implications of laws and regulations governing the detention and sentencing of mentally disordered clients.

With a vast body of material at her disposal, Emma was more than a match for the information-hungry post grads. Their experience was said to be truly enjoyable, but there is to be no permanent move back to the blackboard.

MANDATORY MADNESS

Written by Sian Hall
October 29th, 2017

As the Government chases new headlines for planning to impose mandatory six month terms of imprisonment for those carrying acid in a public place, for the second time we have to reflect on the real worth of this kind of sentence.

 

Mandatory sentencing is often not what it seems. Three years for a third strike burglar often means three years less 20% for those who admit the offences in early stage and can mean a lot less if there are special circumstances relating to there more to the offence.  The same is true for third strike Class A drug dealers.  Those found carrying knives in public for the second time should face a mandatory sentence of six months, but in reality this is a sentence that can be reduced to meet the justice of the case, depending on the circumstances of the offence or the client.   Presumably, acid carriers are likely to find themselves in the same position as their knife-wielding brethren.

 

Does the mandatory sentence then serve any real purpose? Are there any mandatory sentences that are not regularly devalued?   The argument must of course run that it is hard for governments to send out a message to members of the public who are likely to offend.  The announcement of six months in a prison for anybody committing a certain offence is an easy message that may well get across to more than most.  Of course,  the mandatory term also provides a thinking point for sentencing courts who might otherwise find themselves in a sea of inconsistency.  Nevertheless, the same sort of thinking point has been established for many offences by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, whose guidelines can be varied dependant on the social and legal landscape, without recourse to legislation.

 

It is worth reflecting that over the years the only two sentences that have remained largely unadulterated are life imprisonment for murderers and the mandatory driving ban for drink drivers. Odd bookends for a growing shelf of non-discretionary sentencing decisions.

SHAZIA PARVEEN ON THE SCENE

Written by Sian Hall
July 11th, 2017

We are delighted to announce that from July 2017 Shazia Parveen is to join us at our Sheffield office. Situated in the John Banner Business Centre at 620 Attercliffe Road, Shazia will be well-positioned between Sheffield Magistrates’ Court and Shepcote Lane Police Station.

 

For many years Shazia Parveen has been the queen of Howells Criminal team. We count ourselves particularly lucky that she has agreed to transfer her allegiances and release her flat in our own Sheffield realm.

 

Shazia is well-renowned for her work both in police stations and at the Magistrates’ Court. Bail hearings, sentencing hearings, trials, Youth Court proceedings and all the rest of the daily fare of Magistrates’ Court life are meat and drink to Shazia.

 

We look forward to welcoming Shazia among us and hope that she is going to feel as positive about her new home as we do.

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