The Sentencing Council has published revised guidelines for dangerous dogs offences sentenced from 1st July 2016. Offences sentenced before this date are under the old (more lenient) guidelines. It may therefore be advantageous to deal with appropriate cases before 1st July to avoid the higher guidelines. The new guidelines cover offences where a dog is dangerously out of control and injures or kills a person, where a dog injures an assistance dog or possession of a prohibited breed (breeding, selling, exchanging or advertising such a prohibited dog).
The new guidelines have been introduced following changes to the legislation which extended the law to cover attacks that occurred also on private property (to cover situations where a family pet injures a visitor or post worker). The new legislation also brought in an offence to cover attacks on assistance dogs. Attacks on assistance dogs covers dogs trained to help those with visual and hearing issues or other disabilities. The guidance takes into account the harm inflicted on the dog and the impact on the disabled person . The legislation increases some maximum sentences i.e. for death of a person caused by a dog dangerously out of control from 2 to 14 years and for injury caused from 2 to 5 years. The new guidelines permit a much wider range of sentence length than the previous guidelines .
Sentencing levels are therefore likely to be higher under the new guidance.
Consideration must also be given to whether the owner of the dangerous dog should be banned from keeping dogs, have the dog taken away or destroyed and compensation .
For further expert advice or representation in relation to dangerous dogs contact our office on 0161 8279500 or email [email protected]