Punishment should be Commesurate with the Seriousness of the Offence

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This essay will critically evaluate the accuracy of the statement "punishment should be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence". Account will be made of the respective aggravating and mitigating circumstances that will have an effect on the sanctions that are available to impose on offenders. Consideration will also be given to the circumstances of the offender and to the effect that the crime has had on the victim. In theory by taking all the facts attributable to the offence into account it will be possible to ensure that any sanctions that are imposed upon offenders are proportionate to the offence that has been committed. Offenders deserve to suffer as a consequence of any crime that they have committed but the punishment should be justifiable. Only those who have offended deserve to be punished. Punishment should be neither too severe or too lenient. The purpose of the punishment is also a factor that should be taken into consideration when sentencing offenders.

The are five reasons for sentencing which are contained in section 142(1) Criminal Justice Act 2003. The courts are required to have regard to the purposes of sentencing. The purposes of sentencing are to punish the offender (retribution). Deter the offender from reoffending (deterrence). Reform and rehabilitate the offender (rehabilitation). Address the harm suffered by the victim (reparation, restoration, compensation). The protection of the public (incapacitation). The principal of retribution endeavours to ensure that the offender suffers an equivalent level of harm as has been suffered by the victim of the offence. The theory of deterrence aims to prevent offenders from repeating the crime that they have been convicted of. Sanctions wit...

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...e and proportionate to the seriousness of the offence that has been committed. That each case should be judged on the individual aggravating and mitigating factors associated with the offence and on the other individual details of the offence. The circumstances of the offender and the harm caused to the victim of the offence or to the community should have an impact on the severity of the punishment that the offender will receive. It is therefore accurate to say that punishment should be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime. However, if the purpose of the punishment is that of deterrence the offender may receive a punishment that is much harsher than expected.

Works Cited

Bagaric, M. (2002) Punishment and Sentecing: A rational Approach, London, Cavendish.
Sentencing Avisory Panel (2002) Domestic Burgalry : The Panels Advise to the Court of Appeal.
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