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Sentencing offenders

Magistrates (in a magistrates’ court) or a judge (in the Crown Court) decide on an offender’s sentence. The magistrate or judge must consider the need to:

  • Punish a criminal
  • Protect the public
  • Change the offender’s behaviour
  • Get them to make amends for their crime
  • Cut crime in the future

What are the different types of court sentence?

When a court finds someone guilty of a crime, the most common sentences are:

  • A court fine.
  • A community sentence – for example, a curfew, unpaid work or going on a drug treatment programme.
  • A prison sentence.
  • A suspended prison sentence. Where the offender serves their sentence in the community – though if they commit another crime, they will usually be sent to prison.