The Scottish Sentencing Council will reveal how judges arrive at their sentencing decisions and will ask criminal justice organisations, charities, academics, and the wider public if they agree.
This draft guideline, which aims to promote greater consistency in the sentencing process, is the second in a set of three general guidelines. The first, which outlined the principles and purposes of sentencing, was approved by the High Court in October of last year.
Opened to the public on the 12th June 2019, the consultation seeks views on the eight-step framework which applies to all sentencing decisions:
- Assess the seriousness of the offence
- Select the sentencing range
- Consider any aggravating factors (such as the presence of a child) or mitigating factors (if the offender shows remorse) which may affect the length of sentencing
- Determine the headline sentence
- Where the offender pleads guilty, take that into account in deciding what sentence to impose
- Have regard to any time already spent in custody while awaiting trial or sentence
- Make any additional orders that may be imposed alongside the headline sentence
- Select the sentence, stating reasons for the sentence, and for any decision not to follow any applicable guideline
The third general guideline is being developed, focussing on the sentencing of young people and the complexities in dealing with such cases. It is expected to be open for public consultation before the end of the year.
Scotland’s second most senior judge, Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, believes that young people require a slightly altered approach:
“Young people, because of their lack of maturity and lack of process between cause and effect, may be less culpable.
“They may be more subject to influences and peer pressure. They also have greater capacity to change and not reoffend.”
There is also an intention to establish guidelines which apply to particular offences. It has been claimed the first of the offence guidelines will relate to death by driving offences. The current consultation will provide the foundation for future guidelines dealing with specific crimes.
The consultation, which closes on the 6th September 2019, can be accessed here.
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