Discuss the range of options available to courts when passing a sentence.

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  1. Discuss the range of options available to courts when passing a sentence.
  2. Why do courts with concurrent jurisdiction pass different sentences?

There is a range of sentencing options available to the courts, each one designed to suit the relevant crime that has been committed. This could be referred to as a “hierarchy” of sentences starting with a simple fine and ending with something more serious such as a life sentence.

A sentence is passed, following a “guilty” verdict by the jury. Once this is passed then the judge attempts to find a punishment to fit the crime- the sentence. However, he/she has to take several factors into account. These are The Crime (Sentences) Act 1997, the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 and The Common law tariff system. The first Act stated states that judges have to now concentrate on a swing away from punishments based on a policy of “just deserts” and concentrate on an area known as deterrence. Deterrence is a type of sentencing that aims to stop the prevention of further crimes. This is idea is based on the point that if there is a prospect of an unpleasant punishment, this alone will prevent the commission of further crimes. The chance of detention is the basis of deterrence, as this will ensure it is effective. If there is only a minor chance of getting caught and then following this, being prosecuted then deterrence will be not fulfil its purpose. The provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 contradict the Act that has just been stated. This is because it is actually based on “just deserts.” Sentences stated in the Act are separated into four categories-community sentences, fines, custodial sentences and certain miscellaneous sentences. The judge begins the relevant case with the presumption that the sentence will be a fine, unless this sentence is fixed by law (for example life imprisonment). Where certain statutory conditions are satisfied, a custodial or community sentence can be ordered.

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Sentences in our justice system range from a fine to a custodial sentence. These are the categories contained within Criminal Justice Act 1991. It is possible to impose a fine for almost any offence except murder. A set maximum of fines is built into the system operating in a Magistrates court. Each fine depends on the offence in question, with the highest fine being £5000. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 requires Magistrates to issue a fine that fits the nature of the crime as well as paying attention to the offenders circumstances so as they can reduce or increase the ...

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