Complete rethink on sentencing for domestic burglary

Monday 26 January 2009 at 8:50 am | In News | Post Comment
Newcastle Gaol
Newcastle Gaol
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, January 16, 2009

Where goods of significant sentimental, even if of only slight economic, value were involved, the sentence should reflect the impact of the offence.

When there are serious adverse consequences, sentences should reflect even unintended consequences.
Their Lordships adopted the observations of Lord Bingham of in R v Brewster and Others [1998]. An appropriate sentence could not be arrived at simply by adding up the aggravating features in some kind of hypothetical, quasi-mathematical calculation. The sentencer had to focus on the realities.

Two specific features might be present in every dwelling house burglary: first, the overall criminality of the defendant, in the light of his previous convictions, and second, the true impact of the offence on the victims.

A sentence longer than nine to eighteen months might be indicated by a record of relevant offending or by a significant impact on the victim, or both.

A community order might be appropriate in some lesser circumstances.
In serious cases the starting point should be two years and upwards.

Law Report here

Cannabis is treated more seriously from today

Monday 26 January 2009 at 8:05 am | In News | Post Comment
Cannabis is reclassified up to a class B drug (from class C) with effect from today, 26 January 2009.

For possession the penalty on indictment increases from 2 to 5 years’ imprisonment.  In the Magistrates’ Court – where most possession cases are heard – the maximum penalty remains the same at 3 months, but the maximum fine goes up from £1,000 to £2,500.

For the supply and production the penalty increases to 6 months and/or a £5,000 fine up from 3 months and £2,500.
The penalties for other offences relating to cannabis are unaffected. The maximum penalty for supplying or producing cannabis is 14 years.

Sex offenders on release face lie detector tests from 19 January 2008

Thursday 22 January 2009 at 7:43 am | In News | Post Comment

On 19 January 2008 the Offender Management Act 2007, ss 28-30 comes into force and enables polygraph conditions for certain offenders released on licence. These provisions are being commenced in nine police areas in the East and West Midlands regions as part of a pilot scheme running from 19 January 2009 until 31 March 2012.

Stringer v HMRC previously known as Ainsworth v HMRC

Tuesday 20 January 2009 at 12:02 pm | In News | Post Comment

This morning the ECJ has held:

  • a worker who is on sick-leave for the whole of an annual leave year is entitled to a period of four weeks’ paid annual leave, despite the fact they are not actually at work. The national courts can decide whether the paid leave can be taken during that year, or whether it should be carried over to another year, but either way the employee is entitled to be paid at some point.
  • the right to paid annual leave is not extinguished at the end of a leave year if the worker was on sick leave for the whole of that year, or if he was absent on sick leave for part of the year and was still on sick-leave when his employment terminates

This has to return to the House of Lords who will no doubt appoly the ruling to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision from April 2005 that the right to paid holiday leave did not accrue during periods of sickness absence.

Employers are not going to like this.

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 now in force

Tuesday 20 January 2009 at 9:08 am | In News | Post Comment

The following are provisions of the new act:-

• Creates an offence of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
• Bans possession of extreme pornographic images.
• Clarifies the law on self-defence, articulating the state’s responsibility to stand by those acting in good faith when using force in self-defence.
• Introduces new civil penalties for serious breaches of data protection principles and makes unlawfully obtaining personal data a custodial offence punishable by up to two years in prison.
• Abolishes the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.
• Bans strike action by prison officers.
• Grants courts the power to make dangerous offenders given a discretionary life sentence serve a higher proportion of their tariff before being eligible for parole.
• Introduces the premises closure order which allows the police and local authorities to apply to magistrates’ courts to close privately owned, rented, commercial and local authority premises at the centre of serious and persistent disorder or nuisance.
• Creates violent offender orders: civil preventative orders that allow courts to impose post-sentence restrictions on those convicted of violent offences.
• Clarifies the sentencing procedures for youth offenders; creates the youth conditional caution and the youth rehabilitation order, a generic community sentence.
• Introduces a special immigration status for those believed to have been involved in terrorism and other serious crimes. Recipients have no formal leave to enter or remain in Britain, and the home secretary can impose conditions on their residence and employment and require them to wear an electronic tag. Special immigration status can also be applied to their spouses.

Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 gets serious

Saturday 17 January 2009 at 6:49 am | In News | 3 Comments

The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 which came into forvce on 16th January makes three main changes

  • increases the fines available to the courts
  • imprisonment now available for more offences
  • more cases triable either way (more cases will be open to an unlimited penalty)
Magistrates’ can now impose up to 12 months imprisonment and £20,000 fine for a breach of health and safety rules (This is an exception to the £5,000 and 6 months maximum that is usually found in text books). Those convicted on indictment face not only an unlimited fine but also a term of two years mprisonment.

These changes follow a series of cases where individuals have faced corporate manslaughter charges and have been convicted of the lesser health and safety offences and then faced only the very small fines available only in magistrates’ courts.

Clifford Chance to axe 80 lawyers

Friday 9 January 2009 at 6:09 am | In News | Post Comment
The Financial Times 8th January 2009 reported that Clifford Chance, the world’s largest law firm, is to cut almost a 1 in 10 of its staff of lawyers in London. This is the most dramatic indication that the international financial crunch has finally halted the long boom in the legal industry.

The firm proposes cutting between 70 and 80 of its 880 London “associates” – qualified lawyers below the partner level. The action will not affect the firm’s 227 partners – who own and manage the business – or its 258 trainees.

News report here

Judges – image problem for women

Thursday 8 January 2009 at 7:34 am | In News | Post Comment

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales says potential women candidates are put off becoming judges because the profession was seen as old-fashioned and pompous.

High Court judges are attracted by the prestige and challenge of the job and an acknowledgement of their quality as a lawyer.

Research has found that many barristers were put off by the workload, a fall in salary – as much as five fold – and working far from home for long periods.

News report here

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2008

Thursday 1 January 2009 at 10:42 am | In News | Post Comment
This Order comes into force on 26 January 2009.

The Order reclassifies cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol andcannabinol derivatives from Class C to Class B drugs for the purposesof control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In addition, anysubstance which is an ester or ether of cannabinol or of a cannabinolderivative is reclassified as a Class B drug

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revisions to Code A) (No. 2) Order 2008

Thursday 1 January 2009 at 10:35 am | In News | 1 Comment

This Order brings into operation on 1 January 2009 the revision of paragraph 4 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Code of Practice.

It regulates the exercise by police officers of statutory powers of stop and search and police officers and police staff of requiremen

ts to record public encounters (“PACE Code A”).

The Order also brings into operation the clarification in paragraphs 2.2 and 2.3 of Code A regarding reasonable suspicion not being based on single factors alone.

Paragraphs 4.10A and 4.10B of PACE Code A are also amended to clarify the position on providing receipts for stops and searches.

The revision of paragraph 4 of PACE Code A (recording requirements including recording of encounters not governed by statutory powers), together with the consequential deletion of Annexes D and E will mean that constables will no longer be required to record all encounters not governed by statutory powers.

The constables will only need to record information on the ethnicity of a person who is the subject of such an encounter. A receipt will also be made available to the person.

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