The ‘England and Wales Sentencing Guidelines’ aim to promote consistency by organising the sentencing process as a sequence of steps, with initial judicial assessments subsequently adjusted to reflect relevant case characteristics. Yet, existing evaluations of the guidelines have failed to incorporate this structure adequately, instead concentrating solely on sentence outcomes. We use multivariate multilevel models to offer new insights into the decisions made throughout the sentencing process. Focusing on cases of assault sentenced at the Crown Court we show that the level of compliance with the guidelines is high. However, we also show that some case characteristics are being unduly considered at more than one stage of the sentencing process, meaning existing studies may be underestimating their true influence.