You may have heard about ‘texts’ or a ‘brown envelope to the Judge’, some of the names for the old system by which someone could get a reduced sentence.
If you helped the police a ‘text’ may be handed to the sentencing judge explaining that you had assisted and a reduction in sentence may have followed. It was a murky world, clouded in some secrecy and one that few people properly understood.
A formal statutory system has now been put in place to regulate reduction in sentence for a defendant who aids the authorities, although the ‘text’ regime is still around.
The aim of the new regime is to govern assistance provided and the benefits that might flow as a result.
The old principles (the text) remain in use as it has always been the case that anyone convicted of a crime will receive credit against sentence for assistance rendered to the police or authorities.
Requirements under the new regime
The key features of the statutory scheme are:
- The offender must admit the full extent of his own criminality before the statutory framework can begin to apply, and he must agree to participate in a formalised process which has its own immediate purposes intended to avoid some of the problems which the earlier processes could create.
- Provided the offender admits the full extent of his criminality the process is not confined to offenders who provide assistance in relation to crimes in which they participated, or were accessories, or with which they are linked.
- This is largely a new process in which a post-sentence review of the sentence passed in the Crown Court can be reviewed in a judicial process on a reference back to the court by the prosecutor. That does not prevent there being such an analysis during a Crown Court sentencing decision.
- The decision whether a reduction in sentence should follow a post-sentence agreement is vested in the judge sitting in the Crown Court. The court is able to take into account the specific post-sentence situation. That is quite different from the former practice.
- If in the end the offender fails to comply with his agreement, that does not itself constitute a crime but he is liable to be brought back to the court and deprived of the reduction of sentence which has been allowed or would have been allowed if he had complied with the agreement in full.
New versus old
Following the new regime, rather than the old text regime, may result in a greater discount in sentence. There is no guarantee, however, that providing information will result in a reduction in sentence. It would very much depend on the nature of the information, how it can be used, and whether action can be taken by the police as a result (particularly action that might result in others being prosecuted).
It is important to note that as the formal regime requires full admissions of any criminality on your part, this may result in further charges being brought against you or further offences being taken into consideration on sentence. There is a careful decision to be made here.
How will I know if it has been taken into account?
The law says that if you are given a reduction in your sentence you have to be told that you have been given a lesser sentence and you must also be told what the greater sentence would have been. You will then know exactly how much of a reduction you were given.
How we can help
The decision is not an easy one, nor is the process, because of the potential consequences, which may include having to attend court as a witness, or receiving a longer initial sentence.
It is vital, therefore, that you obtain expert advice before speaking to the police. If this is something that you wish to discuss, please contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
Why should I have a solicitor at the police station?
Why wouldn’t you? For a start, it’s free. To everybody, no matter how much or how little they earn. That should probably be a good enough reason in itself, but many people still choose not to have a solicitor.
What happens in the police station goes a long way to deciding the outcome of the case
If you end up in court many months later, the Judge and jury, or magistrates, will know what you said or didn’t say in your interview and will pay close attention to it. If you do the right thing in your interview, you might not even get to court. You might be given a caution or your case might be dealt with in another way that means you don’t have to go to court. You might not even be charged.
It doesn’t make you look guilty
If you were ill you would go to a doctor. If your car breaks down you go to a garage. You get help from someone who knows that they are doing and is there to help you.
You won’t have to wait hours for a solicitor; at least not for one of our solicitors
When you are arrested there is usually a lot of work for the police to do before you are interviewed. It is that work that takes time, not waiting for a solicitor. If you say you want a solicitor as soon as you get to the police station, we will be contacted by the police and can arrange to attend when the police are ready to deal with you. If you are attending by appointment (often called an interview by appointment or caution +3), we will meet you there.
Just because you feel you haven’t done anything wrong, doesn’t mean you don’t need a solicitor
In fact, it makes you need one even more because if you say or do the wrong thing, you might end up getting charged with something you didn’t do.
If you are in a cell in the police station, there is no such thing as ‘not very serious’
Calling us to come and represent you is not ‘bothering us’. It is what solicitors are there for.
You can call us during office hours on 020 7388 1658 or 24 hours a day on 07939958767. Or email email@example.com
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More