So what am I talking about? To follow what?

I am talking about the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines which can be found here:-

These guidelines specifically refer to speeding offences. Similar guidelines exist for all manner of motoring and criminal offences.  The Magistrates must follow the relevant sentencing guidelines, unless it is contrary to the interests of justice to do so. If they vary from the guidelines they are supposed to announce the reason for doing so.

So should the Magistrates merely follow the guidelines?  If so, you might wonder why have the Magistrates at all when a computer will do the job equally as well?

I am pleased to advise that there is a groundswell of opinion amongst the Magistrates that enables them to “make their own mind up”. You will note with interest the guidelines have many, many lines of aggravating features, 11 in total, that might increase the sentence and only 3 lines of features that might lessen or mitigate the sentence.

My role as an Advocate is to ensure that those few lines of mitigation are presented clearly, with passion and persuasion, in equal measures.

Today, I think I achieved that.  My client was charged with speeding at 130mph on the motorway and received 6 points, not the disqualification in excess of 28 days he should have done, if the Magistrates had merely followed the guidelines . . . this was a good day in Court and the right result in my opinion.

Jonathan Mason