Aims of Sentencing

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 18-02-14 11:01


  • Once a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty the courts decide on sentence
  • There is a requirment of consistency leading to public consistency - so they know what the defendant is likely to get
  • Range of sentencing available is guidlined by the sentencing council 
  • The guidlines and sentences are decided upon with a number of traditional theories in mind
  • These thorites are:
    • Retribution
    • Deterrence
    • Rehabitation
    • Protection of the public
    • Reparation 
    • Denunclation
  • The Criminal Justice Act 2003 sets out the purpose of sentencing for those aged 18, court must have regard to:
    • The punishment of the offenders
    • The reduction of crime
    • The reform and rehabilitation of offenders
    • The protection of the public and the making of reparation by offenders to persons affected by their offences
1 of 6


  • The punishment of the offender - crimes deserves to be met by punishment
  • Not seeking to reduce crime or alter offenders future behaviour in proportion to the offence
  • Wide public acceptance and are central to the present government's penal policies
  • 'An eye for an eye' crudest form of retribution and was one of the factors used to justify the death penalty for murder. 
  • Tariff sentencing - today based on idea that offences have certain tariff or level of sentencing
  • The Sentencing Council produce guidlines for sentencing
  • Helping societys collective disapproval of unacceptable behaviour and providing reassurance that the system works
2 of 6


Individual deterrence - intended to ensure that the offender does not re-offend, through the fear of future punishment. Penalties that can be imposed with the aim of deterring include imprisonment, suspended sentence or fine. However prison does not appeal to deter with 55% of adult prisoners re-offending within 2 years and over 70% of young offenderd re-offending

General detterence - aimed at preventing other potential offenders from committing the crimes by seeing the severe sentences passed for crimes. Value more doubtful at individual deterrent. The courts do occasionally resort to making an example of an offender in order to warn other potential offenders - such as the rioting in the summer of 2011. Many given custodial sentences for minor theft offences

Both are aimed at reducing future levels of crime. However it is in direct conflict with the priciple of retribution, since it invloves sentencing to a longer term than is deserved. Probably the leaset effective and least fair principle

3 of 6

Protecting the Public and the Prevention of Crime

  • Protects the public 
  • Prisoners cannot re-offend in prison
  • Argument against it is that once a person is released from prison employ7ers will not employ them so they return to crime
  • Ways in which the public is protected and crime is prevented is life inprisonment given to those who committed seriouse offences such as murder
  • Courts can send a defendant to prison for public protection - eg mental
  • For less seriouse offences:
    • Disqualified driving for driving offences to protect the public from them doing it again
    • Community orders - ban the offender from going to places where they are likely to commit an offence. 
    • Case Example - R v Winkler (2004) D commited offence in Manchester when attending a football match of Oldham Athletic (who he supported). Judge banned him from going into Oldham town center on home match days and also banned from approtching any football statiums
    • Imposing a curfew, monitored with an electronic tag 
4 of 6

Reform or Rehabitation

  • Main aim is to reform the offender and rehabitate them into society. 
  • Forward looking aim, hoping the offenders behaviour will be altered by the penalty imposed - not offending in the future
  • Very important element in the sentencing philosphy for young offenders - court given info on Ds background through a pre sentence report 
  • Helps to overcome problems offenders might have
  • Avoid re-offending
  • Curing the offender
  • Including anger managment, driving training, education 
  • Offenders usually given a community order with variouse requirments aimed at rehabilitating them
5 of 6

Reparation and Denunciation


  • aimed at compensating the victim of the crime 
  • Pay a sum or return the property that has been stolen 
  • Courts required to consider ordering compensation to the victim of the crime
  • Also to society as a whole - unpaid work requirements where offenders are required to do so many hours unpaid work 


  • Society expressing its disapproval of criminal activity
  • Shows people that justice is being done
  • Moral boundaries that mould conduct 
    • example - drink driving is now viewed by the majority as unacceptable behaviour due to changes in law and increasing severe sentences
6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Criminal law resources »