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Sentencing is the decision of what penalty should be imposed on a person who is guilty of a criminal offence.

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Introduction

SENTENCING A) Sentencing is the decision of what penalty should be imposed on a person who is guilty of a criminal offence. In making this decision, the judge takes into consideration four key points: the significance of the offence; information about the defendant, including whether he has previous convictions for similar offences; any mitigating circumstances and finally sentencing aims. There are four main types of sentencing: custodial sentences, community sentences, fines and discharges. Custodial sentences are punishments that involve taking away the offender's liberty. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 (s1) states that a custodial sentence should not be passed unless the court either decides that the offence was so serious that only a prison sentence is adequate; or if a violent or sexual offence has been committed and prison is the only sentence that would protect the public sufficiently. In Byron's case he may not have committed a serious enough offence to give him a custodial sentence but the court may find that any previous convictions, the failure to respond to previous sentences or the fact that the offence was committed while on bail for another offence a frustrating issue and consequently making the offence more serious. As Byron is aged 22, the custodial sentence would be served in a prison, not in a detention and training unit if he was under 21. ...read more.

Middle

There are six central aims of sentencing. These are: retribution; denunciation; incapacitation; deterrence; rehabilitation and reparation. All are very distinctive and give different arguments. Retribution is based on punishment. It does not seek to reduce crime or change the offender's future conduct. It is therefore only connected with the offence that was committed and making sure that the punishment caused is in comparison to that offence. This idea can be seen in the guidelines set out by the Court of Appeal, for some offences, such as theft, where different levels of sentence are suggested according to the type and expense of theft involved. This may not be suitable to Byron, as he has committed a theft not a highly serious offence such as murder that can easily be used in retribution, unless there were any odd factors surrounding the offence. Denunciation should reflect societies disapproval of the crime. It reinforces the moral boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and can mould public perception of certain conduct. For example, drink driving has become less acceptable as the law imposes severe penalties for this crime. Although denunciation is important in the interest of society I do not deem it to be an effective or imperative target for the court to come to a decision on. Incapacitation or protection of the public is one of the major justifications claimed for punishment. ...read more.

Conclusion

Service is to treat inmates "with humanity and to help them lead law abiding lives in custody and after release" and probation officers should 'advise, assist and befriend clients'. As with deterrence rehabilitation can have some negative aspects. A Home Office study found that there was no noticeable difference between reconviction rates for custody and community penalties. 56% of offenders who commenced community penalties were reconvicted within two years in comparison with 58% of all sentenced prisoners. A short rehabilitation period may be suitable for Byron as he is only 22, but there is the possibility that he may re-offend. Reparation is most likely the most conventional manner in crimes such as theft. Under s.35 of the Powers of the Criminal Courts Act 1973 it states that courts can make an order that the defendant pay a sum of money to his victim in compensation. Also the courts can put into effect a restitution order, which is when if the defendant still has the assets obtained from the victim, then they can make him return the goods to the rightful owner, this notion additionally applies to society as a whole. Mainly in the purpose of Community Service Orders. It also has been known for to bring offenders and victims together, to make direct reparation. If it is Byron's first offence and he has sufficient financial circumstances if he no longer has the property then reparation may possibly be a worthy format. ...read more.

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