Essential guide: New sentencing guidelines for speeding, animal cruelty, and failure to have a TV licence come into effect next week
PUBLISHED: 16:46 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:33 20 April 2017
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Find out how you could be prosecuted for any of these offences
New sentencing guidelines for all magistrates’ court cases - such as speeding and TV licences - which were outlined in January by the Sentencing Council come into force next week.
Here’s a guide to the sentencing changes, and the fines which could be handed out as of April 24:
For speeding offences, the council is introducing a new higher penalty for the most serious offenders.
Speeding will be catagorised into three bands: A, B, or C. Band A is the smallest of offences, and C is the biggest.
Band A = Speeding at 21-30mph in a 20mph zone, 31-40pmh in a 30mph zone, or on the motorway driving at 71-90mph. Fine: 50 per cent of your weekly income plus three points on your licence.
Band B = Speeding at 31-40mph in a 20mph zone, 41-50mph in a 30mph zone, or on the motorway driving at 91-100mph. Fine: 100 per cent of your weekly income plus four to six points on your licence or a disqualification from driving for seven to 28 days.
Band C = Speeding at 41mph+ in a 20mph zone, 51mph+ in a 30mph zone, or on the motorway drving at 101mph+. Fine: 150 per cent of your weekly income plus six points on your licence or a seven to 56-day driving ban.
With animal cruelty sentencing, it is broken down into greater harm or lesser harm caused to the animal.
Greater harm = Death or serious injury/harm to an animal. Or a high level of suffering caused. Sentence: If found to be highly culpable you could receive 12-26 weeks in prison; medium cupability would get a medium level community order; and low culpability could get a fine of 100 per cent weekly earnings, up to a low level community order.
Lesser harm = All other cases that aren’t greater harm. Sentence: High culpability could get a low level community order to a 12-week prison term; medium culpability could get a 150 per cent weekly income fine to a medium level community order; or low culpability could get a 50 per cent to a 150 per cent weekly income fine.
TV licence offences have been broken down into three categories.
Category one = High culpability plus greater harm. Fine: 100 per cent of weekly income.
Category two = High culpability plus lesser harm, or low culpability plus greater harm. Fine: 50-100 per cent of weekly income.
Category three = Low culpability plus lesser harm. Fine: Conditional discharge or 50 per cent of weekly income.
High culpability: No attempt to get a TV licence; having an additional subscription service and no licence; or attempts to evade detection.
Low culpability: Accidentlal oversight or belief a licence is held; confusion on responsibility; licence immediately obtained; or significant efforts made to obtain a licence.
Greater harm: Prolonged period without licence (over six months unlicensed use).
Lesser harm: Short period without licence (under six months unlicensed use).
Sentencing Council member and district judge Richard Williams said: “The magistrates’ courts deal with the vast majority of offenders, so it is essential that the guidelines they use are up to date and help ensure that sentences are applied consistently and effectively.
“We have listened to the views of magistrates, criminal justice professionals and others with an interest in particular offence types in developing these guidelines. We are grateful to all those who responded to the consultation and helped shape the final versions that will be used in courts.”
Malcolm Richardson, national chairman of Magistrates Association, commented: “Sentencing is the most important duty of the magistrates’ courts, undertaken on behalf of society. Magistrates give over two million hours to the criminal justice system each year, and it is essential they have effective guidelines to help them give fair and proportionate sentences.
“These new guidelines will further help ensure the consistent effectiveness of the magistracy, which is shown by the fact that under one per cent of sentences are currently appealed.”