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In arriving at a sentence following a plea of ‘guilty’ or a guilty verdict after trial, the Magistrates will consider whether the case should be dealt with in the following sentencing bands or they will commit the case to the Crown Court for sentence if they believe that their sentencing powers are not sufficient.

A judge at the Crown Court will have the same range of sentencing options as a Magistrate, with added power to impose greater sentences.Primary Band Sentences

Magistrates can bind over to be of good behaviour or to keep the peace. The prosecution will not proceed with a charge if the defendant agrees to be bound over in this way. No conviction is recorded if the matter is dealt with like this because such an order is regarded as a civil matter.

Conditional Discharge

A Conditional Discharge is a criminal conviction, but in essence, if you do not commit a further offence during the period of the discharge this would effectively be the end of the matter. However, if you do commit any further offences within the period of discharge, you would be liable to be re-sentenced for this offence and any new offence which occurs at that time.

A Fine

A fine is money paid to the court as punishment for the crime or other offence. Non-payment of fines is a serious matter and can result in imprisonment of up to a maximum period of 12 months, depending upon the amount of fine outstanding.


You may be ordered to pay compensation to the victim of the crime.

Prosecution Costs

You may be asked to pay a contribution to the prosecution costs if you are found guilty of the offence.

Community Sentences

Community service orders are orders of court where:

  • an offender is required to perform unpaid, useful work for the benefit of the community
  • the court can order up to 300 hours of community service which must be carried out at such times, as directed by the supervising community service officer

Orders must be completed within one year from the date of sentence and are performed in an offender’s free time:

    • community service placements are undertaken Monday – Friday
    • for people who work or study full-time, placements are available at weekends and evenings
    • a maximum of 21 hours can be performed each week over three days

Community Punishment & Rehabilitation Order

A community punishment and rehabilitation order means that the court has sentenced you to:

      • supervision by probation staff
      • unpaid work to benefit the local community.
      • the relevant law

Your supervising officer will work with you to tackle your offending. Your officer will supervise you through both parts of the order.

During the period of the order you must:

      • keep appointments and allow visits to your home if required
      • tell your supervising officer before any change of your address
      • attend your initial appointment with your supervising officer and your community punishment interview both within 5 days of the order being made
      • start your community punishment work within ten working days and work the hours you are told to

At the start, you will have weekly meetings with your supervising officer. This may be less after three months.

Custodial Sentences

A person shall not be sentenced to a custodial sentence of any form (whether suspended or not) unless that person is legally represented. There are three exceptions:

      • Where that person has either been granted the right to representation by the Legal Services Commission and had it withdrawn because of his conduct
      • That person has been informed of his right to apply for representation and has failed to apply for it
      • Where that person’s means have been assessed as such that he is required to make a contribution to his legal costs and he declines or fails to make the appropriate contributions in accordance with the appropriate regulations.

The court may not pass a custodial sentence in any form on any offender of any age unless it is satisfied that:

      • The offence, or the combination of the offence and one or more offences associated with it, is so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified for the offence.
      • The offender fails to express as required a willingness to comply with the requirement in the Community Order.
      • The offender fails to comply with an order for pre-sentence drug testing.

A court may also take into account any information about the offender which is before it. The court may take into account previous convictions and previous failures to respond to sentences when assessing the seriousness of current offending.

Where there is more than one charge the Magistrate may impose cumulative sentences of imprisonment. Instead of full time Imprisonment the Magistrate may order that a sentence of imprisonment be served in the following ways:

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James has nearly 20 years post-qualification experience and during that time has represented clients charged with murder, attempted murder, fraud, armed robbery, drug offences, blackmail and serious sexual offences which were before the Crown Court at Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.
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