Expressing genuine remorse in the dock or showing there are job prospects on the horizon can pay dividends for offenders facing a stretch inside, according to Sentencing Council research in the Crown Court in 2011.
Aggravating and mitigating factors, such as targeting vulnerable victims or acting out of character, are taken into account by the judge when determining the sentence. The results of the Crown Court Sentencing Survey, revealed in May, show that nearly all (99 per cent) offenders with four or more aggravating factors but no mitigating factors received immediate custody, with an average sentence of nearly five years.
By contrast, only 13 per cent of offenders with four or more mitigating factors but no aggravating factors received immediate custody, with an average sentence of one and a half years.
In cases of theft, dishonesty, burglary and fraud, the most common aggravating factor was pre-planning, while the most common mitigating factor was genuine remorse. The vast majority of offenders (86 per cent) pleaded guilty to the offence, and the bulk of these (74 per cent) did so either before or at the Plea and Case Management Hearing. In return, most of these offenders had their sentences reduced by the maximum amount. Only twelve per cent had a reduction of less than a third. More than three-quarters of category 1 offenders were sentenced to immediate custody with an average sentence length (after applying any reductions) of three years and nine months. The Sentencing Survey collects information directly from judges on the factors taken into account when passing sentence.