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Criminal plea of mitigation R v Jones

Watch this video from The University of Law which provides an example of a criminal plea of mitigation.
Your Honor, I appear on behalf of Mr. Jones today and I will make a paper application on his behalf. May I ask please to have in front of you a copy of the sentencing guidelines for the offense of Section 18 contrary to the Offenses Against a Person Act 1861. Your Honor, today, you will never be past immediate custodial sentence for Mr. Jones and I don’t seek to dissuade you from that position. My submissions will be focused on the length of that custodial sentence. I’ll make four points on Mr Jones’s behalf.
First, we’ll deal with his guilty plea and like previous convictions, secondly, his background, thirdly, the sentencing guidelines, and then I will finally address you on the consequences of this sentence. So to look first at the guilty plea, unlike our previous convictions, Mr. Jones is still a relatively young man. He is now 24 years old and he was 22 at the time that this offense was committed. He wishes to communicate with me his regret for the actions and his own conduct on the 10th of November. He simply wishes that none of it had taken place and he was not involved in the verbal nor physical altercation.
His remorse is genuine and it has been reflected in the best way that it can be. He cooperated with the police. He made admissions in the police interview. And then he entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity and therefore, I would ask, your honor, to afford him full credit for that guilty play. Events on the 10th of November were completely out of character for Mr. Jones. He should be sentenced as a man of previous good character. Your Honor, we’ll note from the court record that he has been afforded court bail throughout these proceedings. There have been no further instances nor any breaches of bail.
What this does go towards highlighting is the isolated nature of the instances of the 10th of November 2018. Dealing with the second point which to look at his background. There’s further detail about his background to be found in the pre-sentence report for what he will see set out there is the very difficult and challenging childhood that Mr. Jones faced. He was raised in a home of addiction and criminal behavior. He was surrounded by both throughout his early formative years, and perhaps inevitably, at the age of nine, he became addicted to alcohol and illegal drugs. Addiction took him through the age of 13 when his father died from a drug overdose. About stage, his grandmother took Mrs.
Jones into her home and it was under her nurturing wing that Mr. Jones was able to turn his life around. He credits her for being extremely positive influence to him. He suggests that she just could not tolerate any addiction issues whatsoever, she was much more of a disciplinarian and was able to be a positive figure in his life. And it was from the age of 13 right through to the 10th of November 2018 that Mr. Jones was able to maintain his sobriety. What is not inevitable from Mr. Jones’s background is that he did not trouble the criminal justice system at all until the 10th of November. And that is a contrast to what we often see within these courts.
In fact, he was a very positive influence and made a positive difference to his local community. He was actively involved in many community projects throughout his teenage years. And those commitments are taking through to adulthood almost to date. The timing of this offense is highly relevant. Your Honor, we’ll see from the court papers that this offense took place 11 days after the death of his grandmother, and this is that same grandmother who took Mr. Jones into her home and turned his life around. The pair were extremely close, and there’s a quantified parental relationship there, and her passing affected him greatly. Okay, I’d like to move on to look at the sentencing guidelines.
This offense is a serious one, and I wouldn’t see it persuade you otherwise. The sentence will need to be an immediate custodial sentence and will be of some length. I agree with the analysis of the prosecutor that this is a category one offense, and therefore this offense can be properly categorized as a greater harm and higher culpability case. If that is right, and we’re looking at category one offense, I accept that the starting point here should be a custodial sentence of 12 years on the guidelines. However, I would urge on that what’s the starting point to 12 years is right on an objective analysis. In this specific case, the lower end of the range is what is appropriate.
The range on these guidelines is 9 years to 16 years imprisonment, and notwithstanding the aggravating features of his case because of the personal mitigation that can be put forward. The lower end of the range is what the court should be considering in my submission. This case reflects a relatively short period of unacceptable violence. Mr. Jones accepts that, does a bad guilty play. What this case doesn’t reflect is a targeted or planned attack in any meaningful sense. It ought to be contrasted in the sentence to note that Mr. Jones did not bring a hockey stick with him on this occasion to use as a weapon. It was initially in his car because he had simply attended a sporting event.
He did not go to town with the purpose of attacking somebody, and that should properly be reflected in the sentence which he receives. It is right that on the 10th of November, Mr. Jones had consumed alcohol and was inebriated and that have inevitably been a feature in the offending on this occasion. Because of the timing of the offense, Mr. Jones was grieving, he felt psychologically alone and he felt lost. And that was the reason for him to take in an out call on this occasion. It is notable that he has not consumed alcohol since and he hasn’t had any issues with illegal drugs since being 13 years old.
They do not seem to be ongoing addiction issues that are relevant to this case this was again isolated in its nature. My final point, your Honor, is to address you on the consequences of this sentence. At the time of the offense, Mr. Jones was a university student, he was training to be a nurse, and that is a career that is now over before it ever began. Because of this offense, he has been asked to leave his university course and he has done so without a false. What is admirable is that in the face of knowing that he would receive a lengthy custodial sentence, he has not turned to further criminal offending and neither has he returned to addiction issues.
What he has done is to make a further positive impact in his local community. And he has made a meaningful, full time return to voluntary work whilst awaiting this sentence. What this demonstrates is that when Mr. Jones is released back into custody following his custodial sentence, he is committed to making a positive difference and being a good person within his community. This defense is a tragic error of judgment. And he can’t go back and change what has happened. But he needs to be sentenced for what has taken place. My submission is that the sentence can be commensurate with what has taken place at the lower end of the range, because that will achieve the aim of punishment.
The rehabilitation aims that are necessary in a sentence have largely already been fulfilled for Mr. Jones. He is remorseful. He’s already trying to undertake in employment. This is the first time that he will taste the custodial environment. He no longer has his good character. And in addition, he has genuine remorse for what taking place. He will have to live with the consequences of what took place on the 10th of November and the consequences for the complainant in this case for the rest of his life. As somebody who genuinely accepts the responsibility for the offense, that is in itself, a self-imposed penalty.
Early on, I would ask you to keep the sentence as low as you can, commensurate with your public duty and the nature of the offender in this case. Unless I can assist you any further, those are my submissions.

Now that we have learnt about the different skills that lawyers need, what do they actually look like in action?

In the previous video Chlo spoke about a plea of mitigation, when a lawyer argues somebody’s sentence in criminal proceedings should be reduced. In this circumstance the lawyer’s skills of persuasion or advocacy are key.

Now watch this video where Catherine, a barrister who specialises in crime, delivers a plea of mitigation for her client ‘Jones’.

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