Section 53: Disclosure of previous offers
313.This section amends section 69 (notice of previous convictions), section 101 (previous convictions: solemn proceedings), and section 166 (previous convictions: summary proceedings) of the 1995 Act, and makes provisions governing the circumstances in which an offer of an alternative to prosecution can be disclosed to the court. To all intents and purposes the amendments to each section have an identical effect.
314.The primary purpose of these amendments is to allow the prosecutor to include in any notice of previous convictions, whether in a solemn or summary case, details of an alternative to prosecution which has been accepted (completed in the case of a work order) by the alleged offender in the two years preceding the date of the new offence under consideration.
315.In the case of the financial alternatives to prosecution – the “fiscal fine” and the compensation offer – the procurator fiscal can disclose details of these alternative disposals to the court whether the offer has been accepted by payment having been made, or whether acceptance has been deemed by the alleged offender taking no action in respect of the offer.
316.It is not intended that accepted “fiscal fines” or compensation offers, or completed work orders, should be regarded as criminal convictions for this or any other purpose. The relevant sections of the 1995 Act are all amended to make it clear that accepted alternatives to prosecution are to be regarded as “alternative disposals” for the purposes of this part of the Act.
317.In addition, the statute will now explicitly permit prosecutors, on conviction for an offence where an offer of an alternative to prosecution was made, to advise the court of the terms of any such offer.