Criminal Court Charges
The Independent has reported that the House of Lords has rejected the government's criminal courts charge. The motion of regret was tabled by the shadow justice minister, Lord Beecham.
It is understood that Lord Beecham was briefed by the Law Society prior to the debate about the impact of the controversial fees.
The new criminal court charges were laid as a statutory instrument, enabled by a clause of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, and were granted royal assent in February 2015.
Under the scheme, defendants convicted by a Magistrates’ Court for a summary offence (such as a common assault) on a guilty plea are charged £150. Conviction in the Magistrates’ Court at trial of a summary offence incurs a £520 charge.
Those convicted of an either-way offence at a Magistrates’ Court (such as dangerous driving) after trial are charged £1,000. Defendants that plead guilty are required to pay £180.
In the Crown Court, a conviction on a guilty plea is charged at £900, while those convicted at a trial on indictment pay £1,200.
The fees are compulsory and imposed in addition to fines and costs. Convicted defendants are also required to pay a further mandatory victim of crime surcharge of up to £120.
The charges have been criticised for being likely to encourage innocent people to plead guilty.