Aims of sentencing
- Retribution - Based on the idea of punishment because the offender deserves it.
- Denunciation - Condemnation of the offender to reflect societys disapproval of criminal acitivity e.g. DUI.
- Incapacitation and public protection - Ensuring the offender can't reoffend, protecting society.
- Deterrence - Ensuring the offender doesnt reoffend through fear of punishment. Individual: Penalties aimed to prevent one specific person from reoffending. General: Showing the public the consequences of crime e.g. giving a very high profile case a harsh sentence.
- Rehabilitation - Reforming the offender to integrate them back into functioning with society.
- Reparation - Compensating the victim of the crime for the damages, usually in an order of payment.
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- Retribution is aimed at the idea of each offence having a sentencing tariff.
- The Sentencing Council produces guidelines for sentences which include minimum and maximum sentences and mitigating and aggrivating factors help to give an offender a specific sentence.
- The guidelines leave little discretion in sentencing with judges and allows improved consistency.
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Factors considered when sentencing
- Previous convictions
- If the defendant was on bail
- Any involvement with religious, racial, disability or sexual orientation hostility
- If the defendant was in a position of trust
- Premeditated injury
- Abuse of power/authority
- What the defendant pleaded
- The defendants background (reports, financial..)
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- Mandatory life - Only sentence for murder. The judge is allowed to state a minimum amount of years to serve before eligable for release, governened by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. A full term is set for 2+ murders involving planning, abduction, sexual or sadistic nature, Murder of a child involving sexual or sadistic conduct, Murder by a previously convicted murderer.
- Discretionary life - for other indictable offences, with a maximum life sentence which the judge doesn't have to impose and may give a lesser sentence.
- Fixed term - The length of the sentence depends on certain factors. The prisoner doesn't serve the full sentence, and usually only serves half before release on licence. Only given to over 21's.
- Home detention curfew - Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 early release with a curfew condition was introduced. The curfew increases with sentence length and theres no automatic right to this, an offenders suitability must be checked first.
- Dangerous offenders - The Criminal Justice Act 2003 made special sentences for the crown court to deal with dangerous offenders. 1) An indeterminate sentence. 2) An extenstion to the normal sentence given.
- Minimum sentences - There is a minimum of 7 years for dealing class A drugs and a minimum of 3 years for those convicted of burglary for the third time, however in both cases a lesser sentence may be given under exceptional circumstances.
- Suspended sentence - The offender will only go to prison if they breach the terms of their suspension. The sentence can only be between 14 days - 2 years and the suspension must be between 6-24 months.
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- Unpaid work requirement - Requires the offender to do 30-400 hours of unpaid work. e.g. building centres or painting schools.
- Prohibited activity requirement - Allows a variety of activities to be prohibited to prevent the offender from reoffending.
- Curfew requirement - An offender may be ordered to stay at a fixed address for 2-16 hours in any 24 hour period. This can last for up to 12 months but may only occur where the offender can be monitored.
- Exclusion requrement - Offenders are ordered to stay away from certain areas, and this can also specify different areas on different days.
- Supervision requirement - The offender is placed under supervision by a probation officer for up to 3 years and appointments must be made regularly with the officer or another officer of choice.
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Young offenders sentences
- Young offenders institute - Offenders aged 15-20 may get a custodial sentence in a young offenders institute. Sentances vary from 21 days - the normal sentence limit. If an offender turns 21 in a young offenders institute the will be transferred to an adult prison to complete their sentence.
- Detention and Training orders - A new sentence imposed under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Its a split sentence of half custody, half community for a specific period between 4 months - 24 months. This sentence isnt usually given to U15's unless they're persistant offenders.
- Detention for serious crimes - Offenders may be detained for longer based on public protection. For 10-13's the crime must have at least a 14 year maximum sentence of be indecent assault on a woman, under S14 of Sexual Offences Act 1956 for this sentence to be imposed. For 14-17's death by dangerous driving under the influence is also included and the length of the sentence can't exceed the maximum adult sentence.
- Detention at Her Majesty's Pleasure - Any offender aged 10-17 convicted of murder mst be detained at HMP. This is an indeterminate sentence where a minimum sentence may be recommended. When the offender reaches 21 they will transfer to an adult prison.
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- Compensation orders and restisution - Courts can order a defendant to pay money to a victim and both crown court and magistrates court must consider making a compensation order in cases where they have the power to.
- Deprivation and forfeiture orders - The court can order the defendant to be deprived of property they've used to commit an offence. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1995 there is a special power for forfeiture in drug cases.
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