Courts & Sentencing

  • Created by: xoemmamcl
  • Created on: 04-12-17 13:52

Scottish Courts


  • High Court - highest court, 32 judges, solemn trials - murder, ****, incest and treason, a judge and a jury of 15 sit, verdicts - guilty, not proven, not guilty, sentencing - max sentence life imprisonment and unlimited fine, majority of 8 for guilty verdict. Appeals on conviction & sentence held here.
  • Sheriff Court - 6 sheriffdoms & 49 courts, deals with 60% of criminal cases. summary (less serious) - only a sheriff sits, max sentence - 12 months imprisonment and up to £10,000 fine. Solemn (more serious) - sits a sheriff and a jury of 15. Jury decides verdict, judge decides sentence. Max sentence - 5 years and unlimited fine. 
  • JP court - minor offences - formally district courts - lay JP (not legally qualified) with a legal clerk. Summary jurisdiction only. Max sentence - 60 days imprisonment & £2,500 fine, further 60 days if on bail. 
  • Stip Magistrate - in glasgow, legally qualified solicitor with 5 years experience. Same sentencing powers as sheriff summary. 
1 of 10

England & Wales Court

  • Magistrates Court - 3 unpaid lay magistrates & legal advisor. 95% of criminal cases end up here. Districit judges deal with complex cases. Summary offences. Max sentence - 6 months imprisonment & £5,000 fine. Can be up to 12 months for more than one offence. 
  • Crown Court - deals with serious crimes (murder, **** & robbery). Indictable only cases. Jury of 12 decides on verdict. Judge decides on sentence. Appeals from magistrates heard here. Max sentence - life imprisonment and unlimited fine. 
  • Supreme Court of the UK - court of last resort, all matters of uk law, highest appellate court. 
2 of 10

Pre-trial and Trial

  • Before trial: Summons issued - prosecutors written charge (less serious crimes) or Indictment issued - document containing the charges against defendent for trial in sheriff or crown court (serious charges).
  • After charge & arrest but before trial - remand on bail - released under conditions waiting for trial (security, curfew, ban contact with witness/victims) or remand in custody - public protection, prevent absconding & interfere with witness - deprivaion of liberty. Bail - released without charge but must return to police at given time. Must attend first court hearing. Prisoners on remand have not been convicted but are awaiting trial.
  • Issues? due process v crime control & efficiency, punishment v conviction, miscarriage of justice.
  • Trial: Guilty or not guilty plea. plead guilty - no trial -direct sentencing. plead not guilty - summary, indictable or TEW - adjourned for sentencing. plea not guilty - dont accept - find you guilty or not. decide guilty or not through structured arguments. Before judge & jury 12 in E&W 15 in Scotland. From electoral register. 
  • Procedure (defendents rights & evidence) fair trial & confrontation, access to justice, appeals, time scales. burden of proof, standard of proof, corroboration, is evidence fairly obtained and relevant?
3 of 10


  • Aims: Desert/Retribution, incapacitation/public protection, rehab, detterance, denunciation, restitutio/reparation. 
  • Types: Custodial, community - based, fine and discharge. Custodial - imprisonment over 21, detention under 21. only passed if offence is so serious no other sentence is justified. Crim Justice Act 2003. <4 years will be released after half of sentence. Exceptional circumstances - may be given suspended sentence - 6m - 2yrs, no prison but conditions applied.
  • Disposals: absolute discharge - no conviction despite plea, conditional - not conviction unless other offence committed within a specified period. Fines, compensation order (tags, unpaid work) custodial sentence. 
  • Guidlines - help judges & magistrates decide appropriate sentence. Case factors - facts, offender circumstances & previous (culpability & harm) Seriousness, mitigating & aggravating. previous convictions, pre-sentence reports & recommendations. Law - limitations on sentencing given to young people. Limits on certain powers (Crim justice act 1991). Increase or reduce sentence - guilty plea at first opp - 1/3 off sentence, guilty plea at trial 10% off sentence & reductions in between. Take prosecution & defence evidence into consideration - explain sentence in plain language - apply guidelines & explain why you applied them. 
4 of 10

SPS Aims

  • Reducing re-offending - offender management services held reduce re-offending.
  • Protecting the public - secure custody. care for the offender and provide opportunities for them. 
  • Action - services & activities which address causes of offending & re-offending. 
  • Early release - motivates good behaviour & relieves overcrowding - if sentence < 4 years unconditional release after half of sentence. 
  • Parole board - decides on release on licencing terms. 
5 of 10


  • Short Term (local) - holds those on remand or short-term sentences usually. < 4 years. Some can hold those on longer sentences. eg. Barlinnie.
  • Long Term (national) - most heinous crimes, high security. eg, HMP Shotts.
  • Low, medium & high security. 
  • Males & Females - eg, Corton Vales (females).
  • Adult & juvenile - eg, Polmont (YO).
  • Specialist Units - for sex offenders with max security, cant be with other types of prisoners. eg, Peterhead & Barlinne E Hall.
  • Prviate Prisons - prisons ran by private corporations (G4S) - eg, Addiewell. 
  • Open Prisons - less serious crimes - allows prisoners to roam freely with boundaries. eg, Castle Huntly. 
6 of 10

History for E & W

  • Before 18th & 19th century - prisons for remand, a place to hold people awaiting trial, sentence or death. 18th & 19th century - used for punishment. 
  • Modern Prisons - 19th century (Pentonville Prison - London). 
  • Old prisons - bad hygiene. New prisons - spatial design & control. (aim - max surveillance with min staff (Panopticon - Jeremy Bentham)
  • Time-based punishment - focus on work & discipline. 
  • 19th - imprisonment - dominant form of punishment but criticised. (failed to reform offenders,costs going up, overcrowding, brutality & growth in welfare state, fail in prison population (1895). 
  • Many prisons built by religious orders (spiritual reformation - did not work & people got worse. Prison was a last resort - cause drop in the amount of prisons. 
7 of 10

Prison Subculture

  • values & behavioural patterns of inmates. Rules of conduct that reflect the values & norms of the prison, social system & defines the image of "model" prisoner. where does it come from? sykes: behaviour is a response to pains & deprivations of imprisonment -subculture is indigenous. 
  • Prisonization: new inmates adapt to prison society & environment (Donald Clemmer). How thy adapt: gleaning (exploit prison programs) jailing (cut off outside) doing time (brief interruption in criminal career) Prisoners learn new values, roles & language. 
  • Sykes (inmate code): dont interfere with inmates interests, dont trust guards, dont quarrel with inmates, dont exploit with inmates, be tough. 
  • Roles:  Fish - newly arrivied, gorilla - use force to take what you want, square-john - non-criminal self concept, rat - sells out to authorities, hustler - supplies goods, nonce - sexual offender, right guy - upholds values, femme - female role in lesbian relations, wolf - aggressive male role in gay relations, stud broad - female who takes on role of male in lesbian relations, lemon squeezer - inmate with unattractive girlfriend, punk - passive homosexual, screw - guard, cherry - female who hasn't been introduced to lesbian activities. 
8 of 10

Prisoner Officer Roles & Language

Prisoner officer roles:

  • The dictator - violent one
  • The friend - helps inmate get goods
  • The merchant
  • The indifferent
  • The climber - wants to work way up in profession
  • The reformer


  • Ace-duce - best friend
  • Banger - knife
  • Billy - white man
  • Chester - child molester
  • Man walking - signal guard coming
  • Free jumper - ******
9 of 10

Does Prison Work?

  • Penelogical view: prison used as crime control mechanism. Reduces crime rates & restraint of criminals & human condition. 
  • Philisophical: moral performance of prison - justification of punishment, goals & conditions for imposing it. 
  • Sociological view: prison as a social institution/cultural, historical artifact. It is a social function - relations with other institutions, social conditions to come into beings, social order & power. 
  • examples: safety in custody - 105 self inflicted deaths june 2015-16. 23 times higher than the previous year. 2013 - reoffending - 59% reoffended within a year. Penelogical view, prison doesn't work. 
  • True costs: individual - suicide, self harm, institutionalisations, criminalisation, post-release, insecure accomodations, unemployment. 
  • Indirect costs: costs the prisoner seeing family & children. Being social, cost of prisoner being kept in prison: £33,153 in Scotland. eg, Sexual offender is more expensive to keep in prisons because of special staff. 
10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar Criminology resources:

See all Criminology resources »See all Criminal Justice resources »