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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Seriousness

637.Paragraph 6 of Schedule 17 amends section 143 of the 2003 Act, which sets out the principles the court must follow when determining the seriousness of an offence, in the context of sentencing an offender. Any previous convictions, where they are recent and relevant, must be regarded as an aggravating factor which should increase the severity of the sentence.

638.Paragraph 6 extends what is a previous conviction to include previous convictions by a court in another European Union member State, provided that the offence would have been an offence in the United Kingdom if it had been done there at the time of the trial of the defendant for the current offence. Paragraph 6 also makes clear that the court is not prevented from treating a previous conviction by a court outside the UK and a European Union member State, or a conviction by a court in a European Union member State of an offence which would not amount to an offence in the UK, as aggravating factors where the court considers it appropriate to do so.

639.Paragraph 7 amends section 238 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which makes equivalent provision to section 143 of the 2003 Act in respect of service offences. Section 238 has been amended in a similar fashion to section 143.

640.Section 151 of the 2003 Act provides the court with a discretionary power for dealing with persistent petty offenders. Where an offender is aged 16 or over when he is convicted and has been sentenced to a fine on at least three previous occasions, the court may impose a community sentence even if the current offence is one which would on its own warrant a fine only. Section 151 has been amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (the 2008 Act), and although these amendments have not yet come into force, the amendments made by paragraph 8 are to section 151 as amended.

641.Paragraph 8 of Schedule 17 extends section 151 to require previous convictions by a court in another European Union member State to be taken into account to the same extent as previous convictions in the United Kingdom, provided that the offence to which the conviction relates would also have been an offence in the United Kingdom if it had been done there at the time of the defendant’s conviction for the current offence. Paragraph 9 amends section 270B of the Armed Forces Act 2006. Section 270B provides for the award of a community punishment where an offender, guilty of an offence, has on three or more previous occasions been convicted and sentenced to a fine only. The amendment provides for previous convictions by a court in another European Union member State to be taken into account to the same extent as previous convictions in the United Kingdom, provided that the offence to which the conviction relates would also have been an offence in the United Kingdom if it had been done there at the time of the defendant’s conviction for the current offence.

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