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1. Sentencing …. Produced by Dr Peter Jepson. Prior to this Lecture you should have read and précised Chapter 14 of ‘The English Legal System’ (4th Edition) by J Martin. PRECIS NOTES WILL BE CHECKED. 2. No chatting in this Lecture. Switch OFF mobile telephones Take notes

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Sentencing …

Produced by Dr Peter Jepson.

Prior to this Lecture you should have

read and précised Chapter 14 of

‘The English Legal System’ (4th Edition)

by J Martin.


no chatting in this lecture


No chatting in this Lecture
  • Switch OFF mobile telephones
  • Take notes
  • If you wish to ask a question raise your hand …
sentencing policy


Sentencing Policy

Determined by Parliament

Thus, often political.

It is a major part of Law.

For example, 80% of defendants plead guilty – of the remainder over half will be found guilty.

aims of sentencing


Aims of Sentencing
  • S142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003
  • The punishment of offenders
  • The reduction of crime
  • (including its reduction by deterrence)
  • The reform and rehabilitation of offenders
  • The protection of the public: and
  • The making of reparation by offenders to persons affected
  • by their offences.

Note the emphasis - under the Criminal Justice Act 1991

the first objective was ‘denunciation and retribution’.

retribution based on the fact that every crime demands payment in the form of punishment


Retribution– based on the fact that every crime demands payment in the form of punishment

Attractive to victims and politicians

Provided through imprisonment and in some cases a fine.

Tariff sentences - problem is that it removes discretion.

If applied to fines - it may not deter the rich.

tariff sentencing



Courts work to legally determined set tariffs – if the maximum is 6 months – tariff could be 2 months.

The Magistrate, or Judge, then consider factors about the offence, or offender, that may increase or decrease the tariff.

examples of factors


Examples of factors …

Plea of mitigation.

Antecedents – given by CPS about D. His past record, domestic circumstances etc.

Pre-sentence reports (Probation) - Obligatory before sending to Prison or giving a Community Service Order.

Victim impact statements – no obligation to take into account.

Medical Reports and Character Statements.




A clear message that society will not tolerate such behaviour…

Examples: Recommended minimum of 5 years imprisonment for rape.

Enhanced sentencing for racist crime.

deterrence or reductivism
Deterrence – or reductivism …


Purpose – to deter them and/or other people from committing such crime.

Individual– to deter the individual from re-offending.

General – to deter others.

idea is to promote unpleasant sentences


Idea is to promote unpleasant sentences

Examples: Murder and the Racial hostility crimes.

Problem with the theory…

No cool reflection.

Spur of the moment offences.

protection of society


Protection of Society…

A very basic aim of sentencing.

Example – locking away rapists.

But it can be short-term solution – depending on length of sentence.

what deters crime


What deters crime?

Being found out?

A tough sentence?

The impact on family and friends?

reformation reform


Reformation (reform).

The purpose is to change the offender so that they change and do not re-offend.

This approach generally favours the use of Community Service Orders or Probation rather than Prison.



Reparation …

Under s30 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 courts are under a duty to give reasons if they do NOT make a compensation order.

The idea is the criminals should pay

Compensation to the victim. Why?

Surely, the victim is society not an

Individual victim. V could bring a

Civil claim for compensation.

sentencing practice


Sentencing Practice …

A matter for the magistrate or judge.

They will usually consider the offence and the background of the offender, as well as the aims of sentencing.

Guidance given by the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal (as per s.80 Crime & Disorder Act 1998).

crime sentences act 1997


Crime (Sentences) Act 1997

Provides, for the first time, for minimum sentences.

Automatic life sentences for a 2nd conviction for… rape.

Attempted Murder, and Armed robbery

Minimum 7 years for a third Class A drug-trafficking offence.

3 years on three domestic burglary convictions.

types of sentence


Types of Sentence …

Copy or re-produce the key facts

diagram from page 191 of ELS.

Write down a suitable sentence as per

The Activity Questions on page 193 of ELS

(your Laws Teacher will ask students

to provide answers to the class).




Can be unfair on D’s family.

Loss of job, friends and sometimes family.

Very difficult to find a job on release.

Do you think prison can be unfair on D’s family?



Court must give a reason for imposing a custodial sentence.

In 1951 - 50 per 100,000 were sent to prison - by 2001 it was 136 (see data 14.8.1)

Chief Inspector of Prisons – Sir David Ramsbottom - told a Home Affairs Ctte (in 1998) that 70% of women prisoners and 40% of young offenders did not need to be in prison.

length of sentence


Length of sentence…

Annual Abstract of statistics –

published by the Home Office.

1987 1997

Up to 18 months 9,074 9,724

18 months to 4 years 10,283 10,777

4 years + (also Life) 8,923 19,950

community sentences


Community Sentences …

Probation – of between 6 months and 3 years.

Home Secretary thinks Probation Officers seen as being too tolerant.

Community Service Orders…

An order to do between 40 and 240 hours of work over a one year period. Projects of value to the community.

fines sum payable to the crown


Fines – sum payable to the Crown

Fines are not compensation to the victim

Common for minor offences – speeding, no TV licence etc.

Fines can be seen as retributive, or even reparation

Rich man, poor man problems.

Formula related to severity of offence and income of D abolished by Criminal Justice Act 1993 after criticism – Max fine now £5000 by Magistrates.

other orders


Other Orders…

Absolute Discharge and Conditional Discharge!

Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders

These are Civil Orders for those aged over 10 who act in a manner that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to someone of another household.

If D acts in breach of the order, there are criminal penalties.

young offenders


Young Offenders…

Can mean anyone under 21.

Though provisions apply to those under 18 and others under 17.

Offenders under 18, except murder, tried in a Youth Court.

The ECHR has found that the trial in a adult court of Venables and Thompson had not in some respects been fair.

At what age is a child criminally liable?



Break into Five Law Firms …

One Law Firm to read pages 185-188 of ELS and explain what they consider are the best means of punishing youngsters.

Two Law Firmsto tackle the questions on page 185 of ELS.

Two Law Firms to tackle the activity on page 189 of ELS.



In Law Firms ….

Produce an essay plan for the examination

questions on page 197 of ELS