Before sentencing

Sometime after a jury has given a verdict the court sets a different day for passing sentence. If you  or your loved one are in this situation there are a couple of things you may want to do before the sentencing day.

Your lawyer will be able to give you an indication of what type of sentence the judge will probably give, but they can only give what they think and often they are wrong. Assume the worst and that the judge will be given a custodial sentence. This will start immediately so obviously you will make the arrangements before the court appearance to cope with children, houses, pets. Remember if you drive to court expecting to drive home that day and you end up in custody the car needs moving and you have the keys! so plan for the worst and hope for the best!

However there are  some things which can be done to ease you first few weeks in prison which are not so obvious.

  • Firstly, phone numbers. Like most people these days probably keep all your contact details on your phone and you aren’t able to keep that in prison! Write into a small address book or diary the numbers and addresses of those people whose numbers and addresses may be needed when in prison. Family and friends are obvious, but what about lawyers or banks, colleges or universities? Same with birthdays and anniversaries; write them down while you have the chance.
  • Secondly, clothing. Probably the attendance at court will be smartly dressed in a suit and shoes. If given a custodial sentence you or yours will not want to have to wear these for the first week or so until it is possible to get a change of clothing sent into the prison it is sensible to put in a small bag some different clothes better suited to prison which it is likely will be allowed into the prison.
  • Thirdly, jewellery. Expensive watches and  nice rings or necklaces are not  appropriate if you are in prison.  When you or yours go to court wear a normal  watch and the minimum of jewellery and the prison MAY let you keep them on but they won’t let you keep a Diamond Studded Rolex!
  • Fourthly, you should have with you some money! When you are processed into the prison system your will hand over any cash you have and this will be held in an account for you at the prison. You will be able to spend this on small necessities such as phone credits to allow you to make outside calls while in prison, and on small luxuries like decent soap or shampoo.
  • Finally, don’t buy 200 cigarettes and expect to be allowed to keep them. Prisons will not allow you to bring with you any items like cigarette, tobacco, sweets or food. Keep the money so you can buy these items later.
  • Do make sure you have any necessary medication! The prison will take this from you (in most cases) and will arrange that you can have access to them when needed. You will have a chance to make your case for keeping them with you when you go through the reception process at the prison

Finally, it is sensible to have some writing paper, envelopes and stamps with you. In prison you will not be able to send e-mails or txt messages and traditional “snail mail” can be the only affordable way to stay in contact with friends and family

First Things First