New pre-sentence report…
The 'pre-sentence report before plea' protocol now applies to all magistrates' courts in England and Wales.
The Sentencing Council held a consultation on draft guidelines for sentencing offenders for the most commonly sentenced firearms offences. The consultation ran from 9 October to 14 January.
The aim of the guidelines, which will apply to adult offenders in England and Wales, is to ensure consistency in sentencing and appropriate sentence levels for the unlawful possession of firearms.
There are currently no sentencing guidelines in the Crown Court and only one for use in magistrates’ courts.
There are eight draft guidelines covering the offences below under the Firearms Act 1968:
We welcome the guideline, which is a comprehensive set of guidelines for the most commonly committed firearms offence.
They will greatly assist judges and criminal law legal professionals to achieve a just sentence in each case and promote consistency across courts, but at the same time enable judges and magistrates to exercise their discretion when sentencing.
We commented on some aspects of the culpability and harm factors, as well as the suggested aggravating and mitigating factors.
We pointed out some of the difficulties that can arise following the death of a gun certificate holder, where the executor comes into possession of a firearm and may inadvertently commit an offence of possession without a certificate.
The guideline will assist all criminal solicitors in making sentencing submissions to magistrates’ and Crown Courts in relation to firearms offenders.
It will enable criminal defence practitioners to more accurately predict likely sentences and advise their clients.
The consultation closed on 14 January.
The Sentencing Council will consider all responses and publish the final guideline in due course.