New sentencing guidelines have been announced for certain violent offences, including new guidance for assaults on emergency workers.
If you need a criminal defence solicitor, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors for a free, confidential enquiry. We deal with all types of assault charges and can represent you throughout proceedings, starting with free police station representation. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Judges and magistrates refer to a set of guidelines, known as ‘sentencing guidelines’ when deciding what penalty to impose for a criminal offence. This sets the sentencing range into which the offence falls. This range can be quite broad, so the judge must make their final decision based on factors such as:
- The defendant’s culpability or blameworthiness – e.g., whether the defendant played a leading or lesser role
- The level of harm that was caused
- Aggravating factors and mitigating factors
New assault sentencing guidelines
Following an “extensive and complex project”, new sentencing guidelines have been announced for certain violent offences. These will take effect on 1 July 2021. The changes are as follows:
New factors have been added for the offence of common assault, including:
- A high culpability factor of “intention to cause fear of serious harm, including disease transmission”
- An aggravating factor of “deliberate spitting or coughing”
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
A new aggravating factor of “deliberate spitting or coughing” has been added for the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The guidelines have been revised to reflect the gravity of the offence of attempted murder. It emphasises that culpability in attempted murder is of the highest level.
Assault against emergency workers
This is an entirely new guideline. The elements of this offence are the same as for common assault, but there is a higher maximum sentence of 12 months. A more serious injury should be charged as a more serious assault offence.
Emergency workers include police officers, NHS workers, those working for the fire service, prison officers and custody officers.
There are also some other changes of note, including:
- All guidelines except attempt murder have a new high culpability factor of strangulation, including asphyxiation and suffocation.
- All guidelines will have a high culpability factor of “victim obviously vulnerable due to age, personal characteristics or circumstances.”
- Offences against those providing a public service will be considered an aggravating factor.
- Some guidelines indicate that higher sentences will be imposed, although it remains to be seen whether this will be the case.
These changes make it more important than ever to have an experienced legal representative by your side if you are charged with any kind of violent offence.
If you need a criminal defence solicitor, contact us now for a free initial enquiry.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.