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Factors taken into consideration in sentencing for drugs offences..

1. The severity of the offence (drug involved, whether supply commercial or 'social')

2. Whether the defendant pleads guilty or is convicted by a jury

3. The appropriateness of custodial sentences (jailing the 60k businessman may have led to job losses among others)

4. Personal views & prejudices of the trial judge (re drugs or a defendant's social status)

5. Criminal history (a subsequent drug offence will be treated more severely)

6. Mitigating circumstances (e.g. medical necessity)

7. Where you are in the UK - there are wide regional variations in the proportions of offenders cautioned or imprisoned.

Socio-economic status impinges at several points on the process. A better-off defendant is more likely to be treated leniently for several reasons or combinations thereof:

(a) better-off defendants may be more able to afford bulk purchases of drugs within their means (e.g. monthly salary)

(b) worse-off defendants are more likely to be accused of dealing to support a heavy habit

(c) better off defendants may be more confident and articulate in the witness box, and may be able to afford better legal representation

(d) The judge may move in similar social circles (golf clubs/masonic lodges?) as better off defendants, and empathise with their circumstances

(e) worse-off defendants may not be able to pay fines, and thus be more likely to face custodial sentences

(f) worse-off defendants may be more likely to have previous convictions, and more likely to be arrested in the first place.

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