The sentencing guidelines give the following guidance:
(1) Where serious harassment, alarm or distress was
either caused or intended the starting point will be 26 weeks custody
with the sentencing range being the custody threshold - 2 years in
(2) Cases involving a lesser degree of harassment, alarm
or distress, or where such harm was intended, or where this would have
been likely if the offender had not been appprehended. The starting
point is 6 weeks in custody and the sentencing range is a community
order - 26 weeks custody.
(3) Cases where no harassment alarm or distress was
caused and none was intended. The starting point is a community order
and the sentencing range is fine - community order.
A few points of note to be remembered are as follows:
(1) The guidelines (as for all criminal offences) talk
about a reduction for a guilty plea and therefore the importance of an
admission at the early stages of committal proceedings should be borne
(2) A community penalty is not available in committal
proceedings. That does not mean the court should send the Defendant to
prison simply because it cannot impose a community penalty, and it would
be wrong for the court to escalate the sentence simply because a
community penalty is not available.
(3) These are guidelines not tramlines.
(4) Mitigating factors explicitly recognised by the
guidelines are: (a) Where the breach occurs after a long period of
compliance; and (b) Where the prohibition was not fully understood
especially if the order is an interim one made without notice. There
are, however, likely to be other mitigating factors specific to the
facts of each particular case to bear in mind.