Revised Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines coming into force Monday 24 April

The 26 new guidelines, which were published in January 2017, cover 39 offences and apply to all offenders aged 18 and over who are sentenced on or after 24 April. The guidelines reflect changes in the law since they were last updated in 2008, including magistrates’ greater powers in relation to fines. The Council does not intend them to result in significant differences to current sentencing practice but, following consultation, has introduced changes to sentencing for some specific offences, for example:

  • Speeding – a new, higher penalty for the most serious offenders.
  • Animal cruelty – “use of technology to publicise or promote cruelty” and “animal being used in public service or as an assistance dog” are now recognised as aggravating factors.
  • TV licence payment evasion – conditional discharges added as a sentencing option for the lowest-level offending.

Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines pdf

The Sentencing Council is phasing out the single pdf version of the Magistrates’ Court sentencing guidelines that is currently available on its website ( The pdf includes all the guidelines currently in force, along with explanatory materials, and now extends to over 470 pages. Keeping the document up to date involves a lot of work and has become unmanageable.

From 24 April 2017 a simplified version of the single pdf, including the 26 new guidelines, will be available on the website. This is an interim measure while the Council makes some changes to its sentencing guidelines app based on feedback received from users. The pdf will not be withdrawn until after the improved app has been launched.

For enquiries, contact Phil Hodgson, Office of the Sentencing Council, at

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