Discretionary life sentences
Discretionary life sentences

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Discretionary life sentences
  • Discretionary life sentences
  • Fixing the length of discretionary life sentences
  • Fixing the tariff of discretionary life sentences

Discretionary life sentences

A discretionary life sentence is a life sentence given to an offender in respect of an offence for which life imprisonment is provided as the maximum penalty.

A number of offences carry life imprisonment, eg manslaughter, arson, robbery. However, this does not mean that an offender will receive a life sentence.

Life sentences are generally reserved for those cases where the culpability of the offender is particularly high or the offence exceptionally serious.

A discretionary life sentence is therefore different to a mandatory life sentence which must be given to those offenders convicted of murder. See Practice Note: Mandatory life sentences.

The general restrictions on imposing discretionary custodial sentences apply to discretionary life sentences. Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003), the court must not impose a custodial sentence unless it is of the opinion that the offence or combin