New sentencing guidelines coming into force

20th April 2017

New sentencing guidelines coming into force

Stricter penalties for speeding drivers will be introduced on Monday as part of a series of changes to magistrates’ courts sentencing guidelines.

Motorists caught doing 41mph in a 20mph zone, or 101mph on a motorway, could be fined 150% of their weekly income – a 50% rise on the existing recommendation.

The current limit for a speeding fine is 100% of the driver’s weekly wage, up to £1,000 – or £2,500 if the offence took place on a motorway. The upper limits will remain the same when the new guidelines come into force.

The changes follow a consultation held by the Sentencing Council with magistrates and criminal justice professionals in 2016, which found that that the current guidelines “did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases”.

In 2015, 166,695 people in England and Wales were sentenced for speeding offences and 166,216 were fined.

Changes to sentencing guidelines regarding animal cruelty also come into effect on Monday. Offences captured on camera will result in a harsher sentence, with the most serious offenders sent to prison. The new rules include the additional aggravating factors of “the use of technology to publicise or promote cruelty” and “an animal being used in public service or as an assistance dog” – the latter highlighting the treatment of police dogs and horses.

Another significant change involves the least serious cases of TV licence payment evasion, which will no longer result in a fine as long as there is evidence that the offender has made significant efforts to pay the fee. Magistrates will be able to impose a non-financial penalty, known as a conditional discharge, meaning the offender will not be sentenced unless they commit another offence.

The 26 new guidelines, which were published in January 2017, cover 39 offences and apply to all offenders aged 18 and over who are sentenced on or after 24 April.

More than one million offenders go through magistrates’ courts in England and Wales every year.

How can our criminal law solicitors help you?

If you stand accused of a crime, you need expert legal assistance to ensure you are treated fairly and receive the best possible outcome.

Perhaps you are a motorist who is facing prosecution for a momentary lapse of concentration and fear the penalty could mean the loss of your licence and, as a result, your livelihood. Our team of specialist lawyers can assess every aspect of your case and represent you should the matter end up in court.

To find out more, contact our Criminal Law lawyers on 01473 298167.

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