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Changes to criminal law; a guide from our criminal solicitor
21 Feb 2022

In summer 2021, the Sentencing Council of the UK began looking into revising the sentencing guidelines surrounding domestic, non-domestic and aggravated burglary.

The existing guidelines surrounding these crimes were put together in 2012, and the revision is aimed at evaluating them and potentially revising them.

So, what does this mean for UK law, what does it say about current legislation and what will it mean if you are charged with any of these offences?

At ABV Solicitors, our criminal solicitor is always able to provide our clients with the most relevant and targeted advice at the police station, and should your case go any further, we will always defend you to the full extent of the law with passion and ethics.

But, back to the original point: what does this revision mean for current laws surrounding burglary, theft and robbery? Our criminal solicitor provides a rough guide below.

Severity and sentencing

The review conducted in Summer 2021 concluded that the sentences handed out for instances of theft, robbery and burglary (including aggravated burglary) had increased across the UK.

According to our criminal solicitor, this means that cases of these offences that ended up in court were often given the most extreme sentencing rather than the minimum.

However, confusion arose amongst the Sentencing Council as to whether this increase was due to the guidelines provided in 2012 or a lack of middle ground for the offences. It was later discovered that the guidelines were the key factor, and thus, a revision was needed.

Stronger sentences; why?

The laws around theft, burglary and robbery are very black and white in the UK.

During the review, the Sentencing Council found that via transcripts of court cases and judges’ notes, many judges felt that they had no choice but to deliver the harsher sentences, so they would not appear weak on these serious crimes.

But, this meant that those who were very active in planning instances of burglary and those who were merely involved were given the same sentences, and this did not reflect their involvement accurately.

Middle ground

Of course, in cases of burglary, aggravated burglary and robbery, there is also an area involving harm to those present; if someone attempts to defend their property against burglary or robbery to then be attacked with a weapon, the severity of the crime increases.

But once again, this overlooks grey areas such as using non-standard weapons in such events, like keys or blunt objects, thus meaning if someone is assaulted, the intentionality and level of harm are not included in the sentencing, and a maximum sentence is handed out.

So, concerning harm, intent and culpability, the law surrounding these crimes is now looking into imposing a middle ground for a medium level sentence.

Non-domestic burglary

The new middle ground is set to include ‘some degree of organisation and planning’, alongside the loss of property being assessed, the emotional impact on any victims present as well as physical harm.

Domestic burglary

The new area is proposed to involve the targeting of a vulnerable victim, and the culpability and harm factors are set to be the same as the non-domestic burglary.

Aggravated burglary

This is a bit more complicated. To sum up here, but in short, there has been a revision to the sentencing for this area, including the use of drug/alcohol programmes to assist with rehabilitation and intent of the use of the weapons.

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