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Custodial Sentences.

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1. CUSTODIAL SENTENCES The Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 states that a custodial sentence should not be passed, unless the court considers that the crime was so serious that only a prison sentence is justified, or the case involves a violent or sexual offence, and only a prison sentence would be adequate to protect the public. * Prison sentences For the crime of murder the only sentence the court can impose is life imprisonment. Where this happens the judge may recommend the minimum number of years the offender should serve, before he can be considered for parole and the Home Secretary will set the tariff. For other crimes, the length of the sentence will depend on several factors, incl. the maximum sentence available for the particular crime, the seriousness of the crime and the defendant's previous convictions. Prisoners do not serve the whole of the sentence passed by the court. Anyone sent to prison for less than four years is automatically released after they have served half of the sentence. Long-term prisoners serving a sentence of four years or more will be automatically released after two-thirds of the time, but may be released on license after serving half the sentence. ...read more.


This order can last up to six months and ca be enforced by electronic tagging. The cost of tagging is quite expensive, being estimated at 675 per offender per month. However, this does compare favourably with the cost of keeping an offender in prison as the estimated cost of this is 1,555 per month per offender. * Drug Treatment and Testing Orders Sections 61 to 64 of the Crime and Disorder Act1998 created a new community penalty of drug treatment and testing for offenders aged 16 and over. This is now set out in sections 52 to 58 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. Such an order can last between six months and three years. An order can only be made if the offender is willing to comply with it. The treatment can be residential or non-residential and the court must set the minimum number of tests required from the offender each month. The court must hold reviews in which the offender must attend court. * Exclusion Orders Offenders are ordered not to go to certain places. The order can specify different places for different periods or days. ...read more.


6. Other powers available to the courts. The courts have other powers which are aimed at compensating victims and/or making sure that the defendant does not benefit from his/her crimes. * Compensation orders and restitution orders Courts can make an order that the defendant pay a sum of money to his victim in compensation. In the Magistrates' Court the maximum amount of compensation is 5k. If the defendant still has the property he obtained fro the victim, then the courts can make an order that the property is returned. This is called a restitution order. * Deprivation and forfeiture orders A court can order an offender to be deprived of property he has used to commit an offence. * Deferred sentences Where the judge has good reason to believe that the offender's circumstances are about to change, the sentence may be deferred for up to six months. This is to see if the change makes a difference to the defendant's behaviour. A sentence should only be deferred where the change in circumstances is such that punishment will not be necessary, or a lesser penalty is more suitable as a result of the change. The offender has to consent to sentence being deferred. Nasima Begum 12A Law Presentation Nov. 2003 ...read more.

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