Sentencing – Makes Sense or A Bad Day in Court?

August 27, 2019

Sentencing decisions from the outside can often seem to make little sense.  Several newspapers recently wondered in relation to the sentencing in two cases why ‘one woman is jailed after stealing just £3,000 but another who took £22,000 walks free.”

The story related to two cases in court on the same day, but with different judges.  The papers concluded that one was unlucky to have been sentenced by a Judge renowned for being tough on sentence.  But was that necessarily the case?

Cases, which may appear to look similar, can in fact be very different – particularly when you take into account a defendant’s offending history is taken into account.  There are lots of relevant factors that must be taken into account before deciding on the most appropriate sentence to pass in any individual case.

Where a case is unduly lenient the Attorney General can consider referring the sentence to the Court of Appeal if it is thought to have been ‘unduly lenient’.   If a sentence is either wrong in principle or manifestly excessive, the defendant can apply to appeal that sentence. We will always promptly advice our clients when this scenario arises.

Importantly, the court of appeal is not interested in what another defendant before a different court may have received.  So it is no good arguing that someone else had a better result than you.  Ultimately, sentencing guidelines are not tramlines, and absolute fairness in sentencing is not always achieved; but there are nonetheless important protections to ensure that judges do not go beyond a proper exercise of discretion.

How we can assist

If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, then get in touch with us at or on our 24 hour number 0845 200 3367 and let us help. We can advise on all aspects of your case.