Mitigation in the sentencing of criminal offences

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

  • Mitigation in the sentencing of criminal offences
  • Factors determining sentence
  • Mitigating the seriousness of the offence
  • Personal mitigation
  • Character references
  • Structure of a plea in mitigation

Mitigation in the sentencing of criminal offences

Once a defendant has been convicted of a criminal offence by a criminal court in England and Wales, the court will move to consider what sentence should be imposed. This Practice Note reflects the procedural code for sentencing offenders in England and Wales (Sentencing Code) that applies from 1 December 2020, as set out in Parts 2–13 of the Sentencing Act 2020 (SA 2020). For those considering whether the Sentencing Code applies to their case, see Practice Note: Sentencing Code.

Factors determining sentence

The sentencing courts are obliged to take account of any matters that ‘in the opinion of the court, are relevant in mitigation of sentence’.

Mitigation includes any aspect of a case that reduces the severity of the sentence passed: either the length of sentence or type. Aggravating features are factors which increase the severity of a sentence.

Before forming any opinions for the purposes of imposing some sentences, the court is required to take into account both aggravating and mitigating factors related to the circumstances of the offence and any associated offence, see, eg SA 2020, s 204 (community orders), SA 2020, s 230 (custody threshold), SA 2020, s 231 (length of discretionary custodial sentences) and SA 2020, s 322 (mandatory life sentences). The court should have a pre-sentence report for these purposes. See Practice Note: Pre-sentence reports.

Popular documents