The ministry of Justice (MOJ) has announced new charges for convicted defendants in the criminal courts. The fees have been passed by statutory instrument without any parliamentary scrutiny or debate. The fees apply to all offences committed after 13th April 2015 and apply to all defendants regardless of ability to pay. In its policy document the MOJ concede that the charges could provide a small additional incentive to plead guilty.

Dale Harris, Partner in Foys Criminal Team, says:-

“The fees have taken the Court Service by surprise. Someone convicted of theft or an actual bodily harm assault charge must pay £1000.00 in addition to any sentence the Court may wish to impose. That could take someone on benefits over three and a half years to pay off. For only £200 more, the same person could have a Trial in the Crown Court instead. Why would anyone bother to have a trial in the Magistrates Court if they could avoid it? Of course, if they plead guilty, the fee would only be £180.00. It is nothing more than a cynical attempt to force those without funds to plead guilty.”

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