How sentences are worked out

If you are found guilty of a crime, your sentence will depend on a number of factors, including the type, seriousness and circumstances of the crime.  

When deciding on a sentence, the judge or magistrate will consider things like: 

  • your age
  • the seriousness of the crime
  • if you have a criminal record
  • if you pleaded guilty or not guilty

Aggravating or mitigating circumstances  

Your sentence might depend on any aggravating or mitigating circumstances. 

An aggravating circumstance is something that makes a crime more serious, such as burgling someone’s house while they are asleep in bed. 

A mitigating circumstance is something that may reduce your sentence, such as having problems in your personal life that have affected your behaviour. 

Sentencing guidelines  

Judges and magistrates use guidelines from the Court of Appeal and the Sentencing Council when deciding what sentences to give.