Convicted criminals to pay up to £1,200 towards the cost of their trials

On 13 April the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 comes into effect. The act contains a range of law changes, including increased prison terms for serious crimes such as certain terrorism offences and internet trolling.

One of the most contentious clauses requires convicted criminals to pay up to £1,200 towards the cost of their court cases. However, it is not clear what happens if the convicted criminal is not able to pay.  There is also uncertainty whether he or she will be let off paying after a period of two years during which that person does not reoffend.

Under the new act, defendants convicted by a magistrates’ court for a summary offence on a guilty plea will be charged £150. Conviction in the magistrates’ court at trial of a summary offence will incur a £520 charge. Those convicted of an either-way offence at a magistrates’ court trial will be charged £1,000. In the Crown court, a conviction on a guilty plea will be charged £900, while those convicted at a trial on indictment will have to pay £1,200.

The charges have already been criticised for being likely to encourage innocent people to plead guilty. The Law Society president, Andrew Caplen, described the new charges as ‘outrageous’ and a threat to fair trials.

Currently, judges can require criminals to pay fines and costs, while convicted individuals have to pay a mandatory victim of crime surcharge of up to £120.

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