Sentencing Guidelines

Courts were provided with sentencing guidelines for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 on 20th August 2012.

 

According to a press release issued by the Sentencing Council:-

 

“The new guideline will mean more offenders will face jail sentences, more will get community orders and fewer will receive discharges”

 

Those guidelines have now been further refined and a new set of guidelines came into effect on 1st July 2016

 

You can see the full details here: Sentencing Council Dangerous Dog Guidelines

 

In summary, it states:-

 

Section 3 DDA

For cases under Section 3 where the dog has injured a person (ie. aggravated offences), the following are to be regarded as the starting point:-

 

Category 1 Harm and High Culpability: 3 Years’ custody
Category 1 Harm and Medium Culpability: 1 Year and 6 Months’ custody
Category 1 Harm and Lesser Culpability: High Level community order
Category 2 Harm and High Culpability: 2 Years’ custody
Category 2 Harm and Medium Culpability: 6 Months’ custody
Category 2 Harm and Lesser Culpability: Band C Fine
Category 3 Harm and High Culpability: 6 Months’ custody
Category 3 Harm and Medium Culpability: Low level community order
Category 3 Harm and Lesser Culpability: Band B Fine

 

Courts have to take into account various factors to determine which category the particular offence falls within, and then from this starting point the sentence could be greater or lesser than this having regard to aggravating and mitigating factors.

 

The Court must take into account any potential reduction for a guilty plea.

 

Ancillary Orders

Courts are reminded that they must consider compensation in all cases where personal injury, loss or damage has resulted from the offence and they must give reasons if they decide not to award compensation.

 

As to disqualification, the test is whether the owner is a fit and proper person to have custody of a dog.

 

As to the dog, the Court is reminded that they shall make a destruction order unless satisfied that it would not constitute a danger to public safety and should take into account:-

 

  • The temperament and past behaviour of the dog
  • whether the owner of the dog, or the person for the time being in charge of it is a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog
  • and may include other relevant circumstances

 

The alternative to destruction is a Contingent Destruction Order to which the Court may impose conditions.

 

The guidelines for non aggravated offences provide for less severe penalties and the starting points are:-

 

Greater Harm and Higher Culpability : Medium level community order
Greater Harm and Lower Culpability : Band B fine
Lesser Harm and Higher Culpability : Band A fine
Lesser Harm and Lower Culpability : Band A fine

 

The guidance for Ancillary Orders is the same EXCEPT when it discusses destruction as there is no presumption in favour of destruction in a non aggravated case.

Section 1 DDA

The guidelines provide for the following starting points:-

 

Greater Harm and Higher Culpability : Medium level community order
Greater Harm and Lower Culpability: Band B fine
Lesser Harm and Higher Culpability : Band C fine
Lesser Harm and Lower Culpability: Band A fine

 

The guidance on ancillary orders is similar to those for aggravated Section 3 cases EXCEPT that if the Court decides not to order destruction the alternative is to allow the dog to be exempted from the prohibition. Courts are reminded they must not transfer ownership of the dog to another.

 

Please note that the above summary only relates to the law in England and Wales. You must not rely on it as constituting legal advice and so for specific guidance on your particular doglaw issues please contact us – see our “How we can help” section for details.