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Change in assault sentencing guidelines

View profile for Duncan Phillips
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Allegations of assault (often in a domestic context) are one of the most common types of offences that we in the general crime department are asked to defend. New sentencing guidelines came into force on 1st July 2021. These bring about many changes, including for the first time guidelines on how assaults against emergency workers should be sentenced.

These, in a similar way to the other guidelines published by the Sentencing Council, provide a framework of how the courts should punish offences of assault. For each offence of assault, factors indicating how much harm has been caused or intended and culpability (how much at fault the defendant is) are used to work out what sentencing category the case is in. Other aggravating and mitigating factors then move the sentence within the sentencing range. A specific uplift is then considered if it is an assault upon an emergency worker. A reduction is then made in the sentence if a guilty plea had been entered, the amount of which is determined by the stage at which the plea was entered.

The above is a summary of what is an extremely complex process. It cannot be reduced to a mathematical formula. Finding the appropriate sentence for an offence and offender is often a difficult task for a court. Our job, as defence advocates, is to help ensure that our clients get the best possible outcome within the sentencing framework. This is partly about preparation, making sure that we have all the possible information and evidence in order to best present our defence. It is also about judgment – choosing the best points to emphasise, what to tackle head on and what to mention in passing.

If you are under investigation or charged with an assault offence it is imperative that you instruct a solicitors firm who specialises in this area of law. The general crime department have successfully represented a number of people for these types of offences. If you do require our assistance please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team on 0161 696 6188 or complete our online enquiry form.

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