Criminal Court Charges

12/05/2015

From 13 April 2015, the Magistrates’ & Crown Courts must impose a “Criminal Court Charge” upon any adults convicted of an offence.  This means, when sentenced, an extra fee will be payable in addition to other payments ordered by the Court such as financial penalties, compensation, prosecution costs and the Victim Surcharge.

The charge can be up to £1200 where a defendant is convicted after a Crown Court trial. Please see the link below which provides further details of the charges.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/336085/fact-sheet-criminal-courts-charge.pdf

The level of the charge is not means tested or based on an individual’s personal circumstances. The charge is simply based upon whether the matter was dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court, the type of offence and whether the Defendant pleaded guilty or not.

The charge will be enforced in the same way as the current financial penalties imposed by the Court: The Defendant must come to an agreement with the Court or fines officer for payment of the amount outstanding. If a Defendant defaults on payment, ultimately they could be ordered to serve a term of imprisonment.

If after two years, a Defendant has made reasonable efforts to pay and not been convicted of any further offences in that period then they may be able to apply to the Court to have the charge written off.

The Government did not consult with the profession on the charges to ascertain their impact.

There is a risk that Defendants, without receiving the appropriate advice, will consider pleading guilty at any early stage to avoid a higher charge being imposed upon them.

However, the strength of the evidence and likely sentence must be considered carefully in order to decide which plea to enter and so an informed decision can be made.

By contacting Hine Solicitors, you will receive clear, coherent advice in respect of your individual case and your options on how you can proceed.

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