I hadn\’t noticed this

Government sources said options for change include increasing magistrates\’ powers to jail offenders. Under current rules, magistrates can jail offenders for a maximum of six months. That could double to a year, sources said.

What scum they are.

If you want to take away someone\’s liberty for more than 6 months then have the cojones to give them a fair trial, with a jury.

Yes, JPs are lovely, a great system, but there is a reason we have a break point, a limitation. It\’s all about this freedom and liberty thing, you understand?

The more the State wants to punish you the more the State has to prove before it can punish you.

16 thoughts on “I hadn\’t noticed this”

  1. Julia – yes, but the Mags are limited to 6 months (1 year if you are up for 2 or more either-way offences) so they can find you guilty but if they think (or the guidelines indicate) you deserve more than 6 months, then they can commit you to Crown Court for sentencing.

    So, Tim, at the moment (and historically), you don’t get a jury. So all they are doing is changing the sentencer? Unless they are talking about changing the either way offences as well.

  2. Inevitably, the long term cost of the riots will include a few more notches on the loss of freedoms ratchet. New restrictions on communications & the internet are being talked about.
    CallMeDave was singing the praises of CCTV yesterday. Wasn’t CCTV supposed to deter crime? Worked really well didn’t it?

  3. I think that all those who have been referred upwards had pleaded guilty, so there wouldn’t have been a jury involved. However they may not have pleaded guilty if the longer sentence was possible fron the higher court and may have preferred to take their chances with a jury.

  4. Sorry, should have read in more detail. I thought this was specifically about the rioters whose cases have been heard.

    If this is a more general proposal then what Tim said.

  5. What annoys me is this presumption that as soon as anything happens, there have to be changes of a legislative/adminstrative/regulatory nature. And because new things tend to happen, there’s always more of it.

    There were already ample laws in place against this kind of thing. The Police were wrong-footed by the novelty, and then got on top of things.

    And really, I don’t see exactly how much stiffer sentences one should expect for what appear to be a lot of small fry in the courts- a kid with a waste paper basket. The training shoe slapper. Some bloke who picked up a crate of bottled water. He got six months in the nick. That’s pretty stiff for attempting to steal water.

    I mean, Adam Smith, water and diamonds and all that. If he’d been stealing diamonds, fair enough, but frankly somebody who uses a state of total lawlessness to steal water isn’t exactly Al Capone is he?

  6. SurreptitiousEvil: fairly sure that a magistrate’s court in England can’t find you guilty (if you plead ‘not guilty’) and *then* refer you upstairs for sentencing. Referral up for sentencing is only if you plead guilty in the first place.

    If you plead ‘not guilty’, they can either find you guilty and sentence you within their powers, or send you off to the crown court for a proper trial.

    BIS: “either-way offence” = “an offence which either can be tried and sentenced by magistrates, or which can be tried by a jury and sentenced by a judge”. As opposed to one which is sufficiently minor to only be triable by magistrates (e.g. speeding) or sufficiently major to only be triable by crown court (e.g. murder).

  7. Ian B – 100% agreed, as is becoming the case surprisingly often. The people being sentenced this week are, pretty much definitionally, the people who haven’t done anything serious.

    The people who actually rioted, along with the follow-up looters who managed/bothered to nick expensive stuff rather than water and doughnuts, have been sent up to crown court – either for sentence later in the year, or for trial god knows when. Nearly all of the people in this group have been remanded rather than bailed.

  8. Ian B, I’m inclined to agree, but the argument for longer sentences is that the person’s participation in the riot / looting / arson influenced other people to participate.

  9. My neighbour is a crown court judge, and it was quite clear from what he said that the people appearing in front of him appealing for bail would find it very difficult to succed.

    He was even supposed to be in court by 7.30am!

  10. Surreptitious Evil

    johnb: Section 3, Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000:

    where on the summary trial of an offence triable either way a person aged 18 or over is convicted of the offence.

    (2)If the court is of the opinion—

    (a)that the offence or the combination of the offence and one or more offences associated with it was so serious that greater punishment should be inflicted for the offence than the court has power to impose, or

    (b)in the case of a violent or sexual offence, that a custodial sentence for a term longer than the court has power to impose is necessary to protect the public from serious harm from him,

    the court may commit the offender in custody or on bail to the Crown Court for sentence in accordance with section 5(1) below.

    s4 covers guilty pleas.

  11. So, back to the main point – the outrange, while genuine and appropriate, is 12 years too late.

    Another kind gift from the statist New Labour regime …

  12. Completely missed that at the time, to my shame.

    I guess it was pre-Control Orders, detention without trial, and the other abhorrent things that came to characterise the last government, so less on-the-radar. Also, at the time I was a stoned student and much less civil-libertarian.

    I’m sure the current government will reverse it. *dies laughing*.

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