If the defendant does not turn up to court for sentencing, can the defence still put forward mitigations and character references?

One would assume that the defence would be prevented from bringing certain positive elements up in retaliation for the defendant fleeing.

Jurisdiction: England & Wales.

Edit - I am talking about the defendant fleeing the country.

  • 2
    “Not turn up” and “fleeing” are different things.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 1, 2023 at 9:16
  • 2
    Depending on the reason, they may put off the sentencing.
    – Mary
    Jan 1, 2023 at 17:54
  • I meant fleeing the country, my question has been updated. Jan 2, 2023 at 16:52
  • See also: Anne Sacoolas Jan 4, 2023 at 15:23

1 Answer 1


The defense isn’t prevented from presenting any arguments, but some arguments might be less convincing.

“My client is really sorry and will do everything he can to fix the damage and he has learnt his lesson”. “Your client just skipped bail, didn’t he?”

“My client is so sorry for this drunken attack and has since given up drinking alcohol”. “Why is Your client not here?” “He has a hangover”.

  • 4
    I agree with this answer and have upvoted it, but "he defense isn’t prevented from presenting any arguments," would be more convincing with some cited authority or source. Jan 1, 2023 at 15:04
  • 1
    “Your client just skipped bail, didn’t he?” seems to be inviting the defence representative to act as a witness, and give evidence confirming that the client skipped bail without being sworn in.
    – bdsl
    Jan 1, 2023 at 22:29
  • 5
    @bdsl The court may take judicial notice of, and comment on, its own records. No testimony is needed. This is an interchange in the course of argument, not an invitation to testify. Jan 1, 2023 at 22:42
  • What does "to skip bail" mean? It's obviously a colloquial term, but I can't make a sense of it. "He just lost the chance of getting the bail back" doesn't seem like an advantage for the accused.
    – PMF
    Jan 2, 2023 at 11:43
  • 1
    You post bail so the court can assume you won’t run away. If you value your freedom more than the bail money, it’s your decision to run. As long as you make sure you are not caught again.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 2, 2023 at 19:37

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