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Custodial Sentences - Extended Sentences & Life Sentences - Court Sentencing

Custodial Sentences - Crown & Magistrates Courts

Magistrates custodial sentences

For a single criminal offence committed by an adult, a magistrate's sentencing powers allow them to impose an immediate custodial sentence of a period of not more than six months in custody. For multiple offences magistrate's can impose an immediate custodial sentence of a total of 12 months imprisonment.

Deferred sentences

If a court believes that an offender's circumstances are about to change, sentence may be deferred for up to six months in order to see whether the change makes a difference to the offender's behaviour. A sentence will only normally be deferred where the change in circumstances is such that the punishment will not be necessary, or a lesser penalty will be imposed if the offender complies with the terms of the deferred sentence. The offender must consent to the deferment.

Suspended sentences

The court has power to impose a suspended sentence of imprisonment of up to two years.[20] The features of this sentence are:
• the offence must pass the custody threshold of being 'so serious'
• the term of imprisonment must be between 14 days and 6 months (24 months in the Crown Court)
• the court can order the offender to undertake requirements
• the sentence can be coupled with a fine
• a supervision period can be imposed of not less than 6 months and no longer than the suspended period of the sentence or two years, whichever is the shorter
• the order may be periodically reviewed and
• the sentence will be activated if the offender fails to comply with any requirement or commits any further offence(s) during the operational period, unless there are exceptional circumstances

It is at the court's discretion to fix the period of suspension (known as the operational period), which can be for any period up to two years. If during this time, the offender does not commit any further offences, the prison sentence will not be implemented. However, in the event that the offender does re-offend during the operational period, then the sentence is 'activated' and the offender will serve the suspended sentence along with any sentence given for the new offence. A suspended sentence is usually implemented to run consecutively to a term of imprisonment imposed for the new offence.

Immediate Imprisonment

Imprisonment is used for the most serious offences and offenders. As well as sentencing guidelines, which judges and magistrates are given, imprisonable offences have a maximum term laid down by Parliament. There are also minimum sentences for some serious offences.

Concurrent and consecutive sentences

If someone is convicted of committing more than one crime, they are usually given a sentence for each crime.

Concurrent sentences are served at the same time.

Consecutive sentences are served one after the other (eg. a 6 month sentence followed by a 3 month sentence).

See. Sentencing Dangerous Offenders:

Extended Sentences
Three Strikes provisions
Life Sentences