In what circumstances can offences be taken into consideration?
Whenever a person is being interviewed at a police station about an offence and he admits committing such he may be further questioned about other crimes known to the police but unresolved which bear some similarity to the one he is questioned about. At that stage or by his own will the suspect can admit responsibility for any number of such offences.
As a general rule there is nothing preventing an offender who is denying involvement or pleading not guilty to ask for offences to be taken into consideration, however, in practice it is unlikely.
After admissions are made normally a list containing all of the offences is prepared by the police. Then the offender has the opportunity to inspect and sign it in affirmation.
At the trial after the offender has pleaded guilty to the offences appearing on the indictment, the prosecution take the judge through the facts before sentencing. It is then that the judge is told about the existence of the TICs. The judge will always seek confirmation from the defendant personally and not through counsel before sentencing him and upon such will nearly always comply with that request. If the offender has changed his mind by that point about the offences, his wishes are again to be respected.
What type of offences can be taken into consideration?
Normally TICs will be offences of similar nature to the ones already appearing on the indictment. It is nevertheless possible to ask for consideration of a different type of offences, however, there is no guarantee that the judge will agree to take any such into account. In any event a mere agreement by the prosecution and defence about a list of such offences is not binding upon the court.
Furthermore, a charge should not be taken into consideration where the court is of the view that the public interest requires it to be subject of a separate trial.
In addition, the court should not take into consideration an offence which it is not empowered to try. For example, the Crown Court has no jurisdiction hearing or taking into consideration summary offences. Further, an offence is not to be taken into consideration if it is one where the court is required to disqualify the offender from driving or endorse his driving licence in the event of conviction. The restriction exists since those steps will not be available if the offence is taken into consideration.
What is the effect of the TICs?
The consequences are twofold. Firstly, the suspect will not be prosecuted for each individual offence. In fact, only the original offence or offences for which he was being questioned will appear on the indictment when he is being tried. Any other offences to which he has acknowledged responsibility will be listed for the judge’s consideration on sentencing.
As such it will only have an impact in increasing the sentence to an extent. However, the sentence will still remain significantly lower than if he had been charged and convicted of each offence separately. In passing sentence where there are TICs, the court may impose a maximum sentence of the total maximum for the offences of which the offender has been convicted. Therefore, for example, when a person is charged with two offences of theft the maximum sentence he can receive will be 14 years (7 years each) irrespective of the number of TICs. This is another element to be considered by the judge before deciding whether to take the offences into consideration or not.
Secondly, in practice he will not in future be prosecuted for the TICs. However, it is important to emphasise that TICs do not have a statutory foundation and exist on the basis of practice. As such there is generally nothing to stop the police from investigating into those admitted offences and charging the person separately after they have been taken into consideration. The situation is possible since TICs are not convictions as such and therefore, the rule against double jeopardy cannot come into effect and protect the offender. Nevertheless, in practice such outcome is highly unlikely as it would defeat the object of creating the trust between the police and the offender.
When assessing the impact of the TICs on the sentence to be passed, the court is likely to attach weight to the fact that the offender has assisted the police and helped clear up offences which might otherwise not have been brought to justice. The court is generally to have regard to the context of all offences when determining their effect on the sentence.
What is the benefit of admitting TICs?
The benefit for the offender of asking for other offences to be taken into consideration is that it eliminates the risk of him later being prosecuted and convicted of those offences individually. Therefore, it protects from the full sentence for the individual offences while at the same time the increase in sentence he is to receive is not likely to be significant.