A sentence can be reviewed by the courts if the Attorney General considers it to be ‘unduly lenient’. However, that does not necessarily mean that the sentence will be varied, as the recent case of Taha Amin shows.

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The facts of the case

Taha Amin was charged with committing several robberies and thefts when he was 18 years old. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment, which was suspended for two years. The judge also ordered that he complete a Thinking Skills Programme, do 180 hours of unpaid work, abide by a tagged curfew and be supervised by the probation service for two years.

It was then put to the Attorney General that the sentence was unduly lenient, especially because Amin had been acting as part of a larger group. The case was referred back to the court for reconsideration. The court agreed and said that, given the seriousness of the offences, a sentence of three years’ detention would have been more appropriate. However, the court decided not to vary the sentence – even though it was considered to be unduly lenient.

Why? Because since being convicted, Amin had taken strides to improve his situation. He had attended every appointment required of him, complied with the curfew and engaged with the probation service. The impact of Covid-19 also meant that was he put back into custody, he would not be able to continue with his rehabilitative courses. Furthermore, during his previous spell in custody, he had spent 23.5 hours a day in his cell – again due to the pandemic.

In conclusion, the court decided that the prospect of rehabilitation was greater under the present sentence than if he was put into detention. The sentence, therefore, remained unchanged. This case just goes to show that a sentence will not always be varied, even if the court believes it to be unduly lenient.

Could your sentence be varied?

If you have recently been convicted of a criminal offence, you might be wondering if your sentence could be placed under scrutiny.

The first thing to know is that your sentence can only be reviewed if you were convicted in the Crown Court of certain offences, including robbery. There must have been some kind of error during sentencing which would damage public confidence if left unaddressed.

Secondly, the sentence must be considered ‘unduly’ lenient. This means that it falls outside of the range of sentences that a judge could reasonably deem appropriate. So, just because the media reports that the sentence is too soft, does not necessarily mean that it is. The sentencing guidelines and past cases may show that, in actual fact, your sentence is entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

Finally, even if your sentence is deemed to be unduly lenient, the court can exercise its discretion and choose whether or not to vary it. Indeed, the court can decide to uphold the original sentence, just as it did in the case of Taha Amin. It will take a range of factors into account when making this decision. This includes your behaviour following conviction, the impact of Covid-19 on prisoners and the issue of double jeopardy, where you are sentenced for a second time.

Contact our criminal defence solicitors London

If the Attorney General believes a sentence is unduly lenient, it will be referred back to the court to be reconsidered. We can advise whether this is likely to happen in your case and what strategies you can take to minimise the potential consequences.

Sentencing Guidelines

If you need a solicitor to help with your case, please contact us today at Ashmans Solicitors for a free enquiry.

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