No, don’t like this at all

Anyone convicted of a crime will be required to pay a charge of up to £600 under Government plans to force offenders to contribute towards the cost of running the country’s courts.

Convicted criminals will be forced to pay the levy, even if they plead guilty to the offence, the Justice Secretary will announce this week.

Not quite sure why but this leaves a bad taste. For a start is brings in a minimum penalty.

Officials suggested that an offender who pleads guilty at a magistrates’ court for a shoplifting case could incur a charge of £190. By contrast, a more serious offender, who is sent for trial for robbery at a Crown Court, for example, could be charged up to £600 when convicted, under the plan.

For example, not having a TV licence carries, I think, a fine of up to £1,000. So, this now adds £200 to that fine (in the Magistrates Court). And there are indeed offences where one might be found guilty but a purely nominal fine levied. Or even none at all: and yet now there is indeed going to be a fine.

Plenty of things where you might be bound over to keep the peace or somesuch. Which Parliament, in its wisdom, has decided should carry no further penalty than that. And yet here we’re insisting upon what, four weeks unemployment pay as a further penalty?

Just doesn’t sound right at all.

There’s also the other rather important point. The criminal justice system is one of the most basic functions of government. It’s one of those essential things that we actually call government into being to create. We also pay our taxes in order to have these sorts of public goods. Given that this is so it is most odd to then insist that government, our taxes, shouldn’t be paying for the very reason that we have both government and taxes.

14 thoughts on “No, don’t like this at all”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    Given that this is so it is most odd to then insist that government, our taxes, shouldn’t be paying for the very reason that we have both government and taxes.

    Governments don’t have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem. They cannot get enough money in taxes because they are so fiscally incontinent.

    It is absurd to pretend that a government that takes around 45% of our GDP can’t afford to run a legal system. It is that they have no sense of priorities and no discipline.

    The solution is a return to core competencies. They have enough money to do anything they want. They can never have enough money to do all they want. So they need to focus on what matters.

    On the other hand, if we have to pay, it is a first baby step towards privatisation of the Courts. If we pay for the judge then as consumers we should have a choice – even if that is provided by Group Four not Westminster. That might be positive.

  2. It does rather remind me of the film Brazil, where people were invoiced for their own interrogation and torture..

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    David Moore – “It does rather remind me of the film Brazil, where people were invoiced for their own interrogation and torture..”

    It is often said that the Iraqi government used to invoice the family of the deceased every time they executed someone. China certainly does. It actually appears to be a common legacy of the French legal system. Which tried to charge anyone convicted of a crime for the whole costs of the investigation. At least that is what I gather from reading bad French detective novels.

    Doubt they billed for the torture though.

    I am waiting for Britain to return to the days when prisoners were charged rent for their cells. As innocent people who have been released and paid compensation have had the costs of the food and board deducted. So we are well on our way there.

  4. Well, this is what happens when a legal system runs out of control; too many cases, too much expense.

    Of course, this is also symptomatic of the disconnected and narrow nature of the current ruling class, for whom £600 is a trivial sum of money.

  5. Ian B – “this is what happens when a legal system runs out of control; too many cases, too much expense.”

    How has the legal system run out of control? The case workload of the court is directly related to those committing offences.

    But I do agree with your second point, and would hope that the contribution to court costs would either relate to the seriousness of the offence, the income of the offender, or perhaps even the length of time / number of hearings.

    There are already a number of other costs that defendants have to pay… so if, for example, someone on benefits nicked a fivers worth of food, pleads guilty at first opportunity, and receives a fine as a sentence, then they could be facing around £75 fine, £20 victim surcharge, £85 CPS costs, and £190 for these new court costs. That’s £370 to pay back!

    Clearly crime should not pay, but the reality of this is that the winners of this proposed change will be the private debt collection agencies, who the courts hand unpaid debts over to.

  6. The scum of BluLabour are every bit as vile as their mentors ZaNuLab.

    They have unlimited subsidy for greenscummers and 80 billion to piss away on a train-set but Legal Aid is to be gutted. And–unless you have substantial means– what else have you got but Legal Aid?.

    You will get the cheapest most cheapjack fucking useless lawdogs who can put in the lowest bid–and any “work” they do will come out of the corporate socialists bastards profit margin. So all they will do for you is advise you to plead guilty to save the scum of the state –and themselves–the cost of a trial.
    And now the cunts want you to pay for the fucking court system also?. 550 billion in taxes and they want to surcharge you?. The real crims and underclass scummers don’t pay the fines now and won’t pay them in future. This is all about making the system more dangerous and destructive for ordinary working/middle class people who might step out of line–ie fight back in any way against state thieving and oppression. They are getting ready–as far as fuckwits can–for the economic collapse (They hope it will be a Greek style mess rather than a real disaster like say the Balkan collapse of the 90’s)-trying to ensure ordinary people will be ground up and destroyed by the system and will think many more times than twice about any act of defiance.

  7. How has the legal system run out of control?

    Too many laws, and too liberal an application of them. No restraint, for fear of the “Victim Lobby”, among other things. Too much legalism as a philosophy.

    All these things overburdern a court system. The USA is the prime example, of course.

  8. Does this mean that courts will get more funding the more convictions they achieve?

    Where financial incentives lead…

  9. Does this mean that courts will get more funding the more convictions they achieve?

    TPTB (mostly senior lawyers ie judges, prosecutors and politicians) have been wanting to outlaw jury nullification for some time. Watch, unfortunately, out. It will be tarted up in “victims’ rights” language, of course.

  10. Simon, IanB:

    The most important party in all such discussion is the wrongly charged.

    US courts, esp Fed, are out of control. The state (all?) criminal systems are based upon the common law we got from you Brits, to which we s/b forever grateful. Technically, though maybe not always in practice, a US state must show criminal intent – the bad guy knew or should have known he was doing wrong. It’s no matter to the Feds however arcane or unreasonable the law.

    In “Three Felonies a day” (an avg guy likely commits Federal crimes everyday) Silverglate wrote the Feds can get anybody anytime and have used such power, via threat, to force the head of the ABA to tone down criticisms of the Fed gov.

    Prosecutors are now writing laws. . .by plea bargains achieved w/ the threat of severe penalties for trial vs a plea. ~90% of Fed criminal cases are now plea bargained. Going to trial tests the law itself. A plea bargain skips judicial review yet its outcome carries the same weight by precedent as if it had. The next defendant has a much higher burden to void an invalid law.

    The article is about extracting more from the bad guys & I agree w/ Tim; however, it draws to mind that our innocent & wrongly charged are frequently horribly harmed & invalided laws are created by our system. My change in funding court costs (US anyway) w/b gov pays atty fees for any citizen winning any gov action against him w/ no more money provided the courts. We could likely do away w/ public defenders & gov would be better restrained both in enforcement and in writing so damn many laws.

  11. So Much for Subtlety

    NiV – “Does this mean that courts will get more funding the more convictions they achieve? Where financial incentives lead…”

    That ain’t all bad. Because they have a massive financial incentive now to let criminals go. The more crime there is, the more work there is for judges and their pupils and colleagues still working as lawyers. It would take a very dumb lawyer indeed not to realise that the more scum they keep in the street, the more wonga there is for everyone who wears a wig.

    Hence the bleeding hearts on the bench.

    It would be a counter-balance to the perverse incentive they have now.

  12. For example, not having a TV licence carries, I think, a fine of up to £1,000. So, this now adds £200 to that fine (in the Magistrates Court).

    A real moneyspinner, seeing as 1 in 10 court cases are TV Licence non-payers.

  13. Wanna hear something that’ll really make your blood boil?

    Ahmed is accused of a crime and, being a man of means, he decides to pay privately for his defence rather than taking his chances with the downtrodden legal aid lawyer. Ahmed is acquitted, and his defence costs are granted, quite properly.

    But. He’ll be reimbursed only at the legal aid rate. So if he’s paid £10,000 for a top-notch defence but a legal aid lawyer would have earned £2,500 for the same job of work, then Ahmed is out of pocket to the tune of £7,500.

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