Sentencing at Magistrates' Court - Driving Offence
If you have been convicted after a trial or intend to plead guilty at court, you may be interested in finding out how you are likely to be sentenced for the offence in question. For free initial advice contact our driving offence experts on 0203 816 9274.
The Magistrates tend to sentence over 95% of cases that are dealt with at the Magistrates' Court. However; in certain circumstances and where the Magistrates feel that their sentencing powers are insufficient they may refer a case for sentence at the Crown Court.
Where someone has been found guilty of an offence, and the matter will be sentenced by the Magistrates, the Magistrates will consult with their Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines have no legal force and are only guidelines. They suggest a starting point and a range of sentence for each offence. However; sentencing is not definite and the outcome can be dependent on the quality of legal representation.
Using these guidelines the court will be encouraged to explore and examine the facts of the offence before it and will identify any aggravating or mitigating features. The guidelines are significant in that they establish the seriousness of the offence before the court and enable the court to determine the most appropriate way of dealing with the case.
Securing quality legal representation in court, and having a good motoring lawyer at court to fight for you, will ensure that you get the shortest disqualification or least amount of penalty points possible in the circumstances and could make a real difference to the final result. It can make a difference between being sent to prison and not being sent to prison if the offence carries a custodial penalty.
A motoring lawyer can give you advice about the strength of the prosecution case and can realistically manage your expectations about the sentence that is likely in the circumstances. You should make arrangements for legal representation as far in advance of your court date as possible. It can often be secured for a fixed fee so that you know where you stand.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 often becomes relevant when someone applies for a job or is asked to complete a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) form leading to a CRB check.
The 1974 Act enables criminal convictions to be spent or ignored after a rehabilitation period lapses. The relevant period of time is stipulated in the Act.
The length of rehabilitation period is dependant on the sentence imposed by the court rather than the type of offence committed. The date of conviction, rather than the date of offence, is the relevant date used in calculating whether or not a conviction is spent. If a conviction is not spent then it is referred to an unspent.
We are often asked whether an alcohol related driving offence is spent only after 11 years have lapsed. This is an issue that causes some confusion in the public.
Under section 34(3) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 a conviction, for specified alcohol related driving offences, is relevant for sentencing for a period of 10 years. However, under the 1974 Act a conviction would be deemed spent after five years if a financial penalty or community order was imposed by the court in addition to the disqualification. If a period of custody was received the conviction would be spent after seven years. Nonetheless you would still not be entitled to a clean driving licence until 11 years had lapsed from the alcohol related motoring conviction.
Contact Stephensons by completing our online enquiry form or call our 24/7 driving offence helpline for free initial advice on 0203 816 9274.