What happens when you get sentenced to custody?
” I know not whether Laws be right or whether Laws be wrong;
all that we know who live in gaol
is that the wall is strong;
and that each day is like a year,
a year whose days are long.”
This section gives you plenty of useful information and advice about what to do before you are actually sentenced. You will probably find that there is a considerable period of time between your first police interview and your actual date of sentence. Cases can take many months to process, but every case is different.
During your remaining time, it is important to sort out your life as much as possible. Do not be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends. Although you have committed a crime, you may be surprised as to what they are willing to do for you. This includes talking to your solicitor and understanding the length of sentence that you can expect to face. Five years does not mean you will be walking out five years later; it usually means two and a half years – however this can be increased or decreased depending on the nature of your sentence. Ask your barrister; ask your solicitor and prepare yourself mentally.
Do not think that you can just leave your existing life behind because any issues and problems will catch up with you eventually. You may also wish to consider storing your personal belongings.
Friends & Family
You need to consider what you are going to tell them; if anything. The nature of your offence or the offence itself may make this task very difficult. It is a principle of English Law that Justice is transparent so there is always a chance that your case will be reported in the media. How would your family feel, if the first they heard of it was on the news?
You will need their support so our advice is to tell them – however, the choice, is yours.
Ensure that you write down all the names and addresses of people you are ever likely to want to call too wide to. Include telephone numbers and not just mobiles you should note that calls to mobiles are very expensive from inside prison. this includes business contacts and professional advisers for example your solicitor and accountant.
Consider packing all of your belongings in storage boxes, in case the worst happens. It will make the moving process a whole lot easier for your family and friends, should you need to give up your home. You may want to consider a private storage firm, although the cost can be high. If you can, seek help from your family and friends – hopefully they will be able to store your belongings for you. Be prepared, however, to give up some larger items e.g. Wardrobes, beds, mattresses etc
No matter what your circumstances, you will need to consider all aspects of your finances. If you are lucky and you have a partner who is sticking by you, he/she should be able to take over your affairs (or consider asking a family member if you are single).
As a guide, consider the following:
Power of Attorney:
This is a legal instruction that allows someone else to conduct your financial affairs on your behalf. It is often used by siblings who look after an elderly relative. If your finances are complicated, and you have a person who you can trust implicitly, consider putting granting them a Power of Attorney.
Please look at the products section as we can offer to set one up for very little cost – click here.
We advise that you keep your bank account open as it is difficult opening a new one when you get released and you will need somewhere for your benefits to get paid into. It can be difficult to access or manage your account whilst inside. All of your phone calls will be recorded and this will compromise the security of your account. What we advise is to use a friend or relative in order to manage it on your behalf. A Power of Attorney or Letter of Instruction to your bank will suffice and will allow you to manage your affairs.
If you are single or if you want the sole income provider, you may need to consider giving up your home. If you are married or have a partner, you will need to discuss the impact that your potential incarceration will have on your finances as your partner may not be up to afford the mortgage/rent whilst you are inside.
If you are expecting a long sentence then you will need to contact your mortgage company and you may also consider selling your home in order to release any equity. The other alternative is to rent the property whilst you are incarcerated in the hope that this covers the mortgage payment.
If your property is rented then you will need to give notice that you intend to leave. However, you have to be careful that you have been advised properly about the likely sentence you what to expect. If you’re expecting a custodial sentence and it turns out the judge suspended sentence, can you revoke the notice?
You will need to write to the council to inform them that you are no longer at the property. This will allow your partner to receive a reduction in their council tax bill.
Some companies will consider writing off your debt, this will depend on the length of your sentence and amount of debt involved. You will need to write to the company to explain your circumstances. This means working out who it is that you owe money to and writing to their accounts collection department advising them of your current situation. At the very least they should freeze the debt so that no further interest is added.
When writing, quote the very end date of your whole sentence and not just the expected release date.
We can do this on your behalf for a nominal fee – speak to us.
On The Day
You would have dressed smartly for your court appearance. You do not want to wear this in prison so take a change of clothes with you. It is advisable to pack trainers, jeans, underwear or any light clothing to take with you. The suit that you wear will be stored in your personal property, so do not worry about what will happen to it. You may be surprised to learn that you are allowed to take money with you: any cash that you have will be taken from you and credited to you prison spends account.
This is how you will survive in prison – once a week, you will be allowed to spend up to your account balance on goods from the canteen, including telephone credit, toiletries, tobacco and other items.
Within the first few days, you will be given a form to complete, requesting details of all the telephone numbers that you are ever likely to call during your sentence. Please note that they will be security checked – do not submit details of anyone who cannot pass the check. All calls are recorded.
Once they have been security cleared by the prison you will be able to make calls.