Attorney-General’s Reference and a Prosecution Appeal
The prosecution, via the Attorney General, has the right to ask the Court of Appeal to consider whether sentences for certain offences are unduly lenient. This is known as an Attorney-General’s Reference.
How does the scheme work?
Anyone can ask the Attorney General to consider whether a sentence is unduly lenient. If the Attorney agrees an appeal will be lodged within 28 days of that sentence and the court will consider the matter.
This scheme is essential protection against sentences that are too lenient.
Can it be used for any offence?
There is a list of offences that the Attorney-General’s Reference scheme applies to. It is a relatively extensive list, but the government has announced that further offences are soon to be added to it.
How often are appeals lodged?
The Attorney General does not invite the court to interfere lightly. Even though around 1,000 requests for a review are made each year only a fraction are referred to the court. Typically between 100-150 sentences are increased each year.
In all cases where an appeal is heard, we fight extremely hard to prevent any increase in sentence.
What offences are to be added to the list?
The following offences will be added in the next few months:
- Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child (s.16, Sexual Offences Act 2003),
- Abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity (s.17, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child (s.18, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act (s.19, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity (s.26, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice (s.30, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Causing or inciting a person, with a mental disorder impeding choice, to engage in sexual activity (s.31, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder impeding choice (s.32, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Causing a person, with a mental disorder impeding choice, to watch a sexual act (s.33, Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- Possession of indecent photograph of a child (Criminal Justice Act 1988, s.160)
- Taking, possessing, distributing, publishing Indecent Photographs of Children (s.1 Protection of Children Act 1978)
- Harassment: putting people in fear of violence (s.4, Protection from Harassment Act 1997)
- Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress (Protection from Harassment Act 1997, s.4A, Protection from Harassment Act 1997)
- Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship (s.76, Serious Crime Act 2017).
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email email@example.com. Let us help.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.