How do courts arrive at a sentencing decision?

The High Court of Justiciary has approved the Sentencing Process guideline. This guideline, for the first time in Scotland, sets out steps which courts should follow in order to reach a sentencing decision, including some of the factors which may be taken into account. This guideline will promote a consistent approach to the process of sentencing in Scotland’s courts, and will enhance understanding of that process.


The Sentencing Process

Arriving at the headline sentence (steps 1-4)

Step 1: Assess the seriousness of the offence

Step 2: Select the sentencing range

Step 3: Identify aggravating and mitigating factors

Step 4: Determine the headline sentence

Other considerations (step 5-7)

Step 5: Take in to account a plea of guilty

Step 6: Consider time spent in custody

Step 7: Consider ancillary orders

Imposing sentence

Step 8: Impose sentence and give reasons

More information on the sentencing process guideline is available here.