Sentencing process guideline

The sentencing process guideline sets out an eight-step process for the sentencing of offenders, explaining how courts arrive at sentencing decisions and what may be taken into account, such as the seriousness of the offence and any aggravating or mitigating factors. The Council believes this will help to improve current knowledge and understanding around sentencing. 


Currently at stage: 7

Sentencing process committee


The sentencing process guideline was approved by the high court on 15 July 2021 and came in to effect on 22 September 2021

Impact assessment

Consultation documents

Consultation document

Draft guideline

Draft impact assessment

Response to the public consultation

Independent analysis of the public consultation

Scottish Sentencing Council report on public consultation exercise

Responses to the public consultation

The guideline was approved following a hearing at the High Court of Justiciary on 15 July 2021. 


It had been the Council’s original intention that its guideline on the principles and purposes of sentencing, being of general application, would also include a description of the sentencing process. However, during the development stages we decided it would be more appropriate to prepare these as separate but complementary guidelines.