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Review of unduly lenient sentences

Published Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Attorney General has the power to refer sentences for certain offences which he believes to be unduly lenient to the Court of Appeal. The Attorney General’s power to refer only applies to serious offences, being those that can only be dealt with by the Crown Court and some other offences specified in an order.

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Anyone can ask the Attorney General to consider whether a sentence should be referred to the Court of Appeal as being unduly lenient, including a victim, a relative of a victim or a member of the public.

The Attorney General will consider whether the sentence is “unduly lenient”.  If the Attorney General considers that it might be, then he refers the sentence to the Court of Appeal for review.  If the Court agrees that the sentence is unduly lenient then it may increase it.

There is a strict 28 day time limit within which the Attorney General is able to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal. 

This briefing applies to England and Wales.

Commons Briefing papers SN00512

Author: Jacqueline Beard

Topic: Criminal law

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