Unduly lenient sentences – when can a Crown Court sentence be reviewed and how to respond?
A criminal conviction resulting in a custodial sentence can be devastating for the recipient. Unsurprisingly, some individuals may want to appeal their sentence. However, every year a proportion of those beginning a custodial sentence are told that their sentence is being referred to the Attorney General’s Office as “unduly lenient”. They then face the prospect that the sentence may be increased.
Why does this happen?
The Attorney General’s Office has the power to review unduly lenient sentences given by the Crown Court in England and Wales. Unduly lenient sentences are those for which the sentence handed down appears insufficient when compared to the gravity of the offence.
Any request for a review of an unduly lenient sentence must be made within 28 days following the date of sentencing. No time extensions are permitted. While it is most usual for someone connected with the case to ask for a review, anyone is permitted to do so.
Only sentences connected to one of a number of specific categories of offence may be reviewed. These include:
• Some serious fraud offences
• Some serious drug crimes
• Crimes committed as a result of the victim’s race or religion
• Some terror-related offences
• Some child sex crimes
Not all submissions to the Attorney General’s Office result in the case being sent on to the Court of Appeal. Even where they do, the Court of Appeal does not have to hear the case. Where it does so, it will decide whether:
• the sentence should stay the same; or
• if it is unduly lenient. In this case, it can increase the sentence, although it is not obliged to do so.
How can we help?
Anyone facing criminal proceedings needs legal advice – and this is particularly important where a custodial sentence is a possibility. With an experienced team that has successfully advised numerous defendants in cases of the utmost gravity, we are ideally placed to help you. While we will never underestimate the difficulties that you may face as your case progresses, our pragmatic and tailored advice is geared towards achieving the best possible outcome for you.
Three of our solicitors have Higher Rights of Audience and are experienced at representing clients in the Criminal Courts. Additionally, of course, we have access to a trusted network of excellent barristers for further support.
If you or a friend or relative are one of the small number of people affected by a referral for an unduly lenient sentence (943 requests for a review out of around 80,000 Crown Court cases in 2017), you can be reassured that our experience extends to assisting those facing this situation.
Please contact Jared McNally for a confidential discussion on 0161 975 1900