Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences Explained


Where a defendant has entered a ‘Guilty Plea’ or has been found ‘Guilty’ by a Jury following a Trial, of committing specific criminal offences, the law provides for minimum terms of imprisonment that a court must impose unless it would be unjust to do so or exceptional circumstances are present which require consideration and recognition.

Mohammed Ahmed outlines the offences that fall within the mandatory minimum sentence’s guideline.

Kangs Solicitors is a ‘Top ranked firm’ recognised by the leading law directories, Chambers UK and The Legal 500 for criminal defence work on behalf of clients facing investigation or prosecution for alleged criminal offences of every nature. 

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The Statutory Provisions

The Sentencing Act 2020 (‘the Act’) provides as follows:

Offences involving firearms that are prohibited weapons

Section 311:

a person guilty of certain firearm offences must receive a minimum custodial sentence of 5 years if aged 18 or over when convicted or 3 years if aged under the age of 18.

The specific firearm offences are listed within Schedule 20 and include:     

  • possession of specific prohibited firearms;
  • possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence or intent to injure;
  • possession of a firearm in a public place;
  • using a firearm to resist arrest; and
  • possession of a firearm disguised as another object.

Offenses of threatening with weapon or bladed article

Section 312:    

provides that a person convicted of threatening another person with an offensive weapon / bladed / pointed article in a public place or educational premises shall be liable to a custodial sentence of 6 months if aged 18 and over when convicted or a minimum 4 months detention and training order if aged under 18 when convicted.

Examples of offensive weapons include a Truncheon, a Rice Flail and a Butterfly Knife.

Repeat offence involving weapon or bladed article

Section 315:        

This applies where:

  • the offence was committed on or after 17 July 2015, and
  • when the offence was committed, the offender—
  • was aged at least 16, and
  • had at least one relevant conviction.

The section applies to a person convicted of:

  • carrying an offensive weapon without lawful authority or reasonable excuse;
  • possession of an article with a blade or point in a public place; and
  • possession of an article with a blade or point or an offensive weapon on education premises

The court must impose an appropriate custodial sentence unless the court is of the opinion that there are particular circumstances which:

  • relate to the offence, to the previous offence or to the offender, and
  • would make it unjust to do so in all the circumstances.

The Act provides that appropriate custodial sentence means:

  • ‘(a) in the case of a person aged under 18 when convicted of the index offence, a detention and training order of at least 4 months;
  • (b) in the case of a person aged 18 or over but under 21 when convicted of the index offence, a sentence of detention in a young offender institution for a term of at least 6 months;
  • (c) in the case of a person aged 21 or over when convicted of the index offence, a sentence of imprisonment for a term of at least 6 months.’

How Can We Assist?

Although the above offences attract mandatory minimum sentences upon conviction and the Sentencing Judge is required to ensure that the minimum sentence is imposed, there are circumstances which would enable discretion to be exercised where it would be unjust to pass such a sentence given the presence of exceptional circumstances.

Circumstances where the minimum sentence may be avoided include:

  • the length of time that has passed since previous convictions is such as to require consideration,
  • the age of the defendant at the time of committing the previous offence(s),
  • improvement in conduct of the defendant since previous offending.

Kangs Solicitors has an enviable reputation for successfully defending clients over many years and for securing the most favourable sentences available.

Who Should I Contact for Help?

If you are being investigated or have been charged with a criminal offence of any nature, it is essential that you seek immediate expert advice to ensure that your position is protected as far as possible.

Our experienced Team is available to meet at any of our offices in Birmingham, London or Manchester or alternatively, we are happy to arrange a meeting via video conferencing. 


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