Criminal sentencing is a complex process and can involve several factors that will ultimately affect the outcome. Generally, there are a few possible avenues open to judges for sentencing, these include:
- Monetary Fine. By far the most common, a fine can accompany a term of imprisonment or be an alternative to a term of imprisonment.
- Community-Based Order. This gives accused the chance to turn things around by engaging in positive work within the community, undergo treatment or personal development. This is often a positive outcome as it means offenders can stay in contact with family and friends and benefit from much needed social support.
- Intensive Supervision Order. Similar to a community-based order, yet is far more stringent with the number of hours served and will often have a curfew attached up to 6 months. In more severe cases – electronic monitoring may be required.
- Conditional Suspended Imprisonment. In WA, this is the highest supervision sentence order involving program attendance, supervision and strict curfews.
- Imprisonment. Imprisonment effective immediately.
What will judges consider when handing down a sentence?
While every case is different, here are 14 factors a judge will look at before handing down a decision:
- Seriousness. The judge will look at how the crime impacted the victim and examine the extent of harm done.
- Circumstances of offence. This involves external factors at play that influenced the nature of the crime, for example, a history of abuse or sudden unemployment.
- Aggravating factors. The judge will consider factors that may have added to the severity of the crime, for example, committing it in front of children.
- Prior good character. Having a strong character profile leading up to the offence can often result in a more lenient sentence.
- Mitigating factors. These include any factors or behaviours that would indicate a lower level of culpability such as only having a minor role in the overall offence.
- Show of remorse. If the offender shows genuine remorse the judge may be more lenient in the sentencing.
- Offender’s insight. This plays a role in determining the motivations of the offender and how much information they may or may not have been acting on
- Offender’s lifestyle changes. An example could be breaking an addiction, or choosing a different lifestyle that demonstrates a positive behaviour shift.
- Victim Impact Statement. A statement provided by the victim prior to sentencing can affect the final sentence.
- Whether the offender attended counselling. This will provide insight into how the offender has responded to the crime committed.
- The assistance and cooperation of the offender (if any) with the police. Little or no cooperation with police can have a negative impact on sentencing.
- Any reports are written by experts for sentencing purposes. Expert opinion on specific matters will assist in informing the sentence.
- The Prosecution’s attitude towards the charges. Whether or not the prosecution agrees on the severity of potential charges can be taken into account by the judge.
- The presiding judge/magistrate’s perception of the offender’s crime. Judges are human, they will have their perceptions and ideas about how to proceed.
Knowing your rights is important. If you’re facing any conviction, get in contact with WN legal today for access to Perth’s top lawyers.