The Sentencing Process

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* The hearing
Once the jury has determined the guilt of an offender, the jurors are dismissed and their role in the trial is over. It is now time for the second stage of the trial in which the judicial officer of the court-judge or justice-will determine the sentence imposed. The trial judge will look at many factors when determining a sentence. These factors include; the defendant’s state of mind, his or her criminal record-if any; and addiction the defendant may have, whether he or she has shown any remorse. * Evidence

The only evidence looked at during the sentencing process is that which has been presented at trial. At this time, the judicial officer may take into account prior convictions. * Role of prosecutor

The prosecutor’s role in sentencing is to present to the judicial officer all the relevant info from the case as well as the info about prior convictions and cases related to the defendant. It is their role to ensure that the defendant receives the highest possible sentence. In order to assist this process, they will also tender “victim impact statements” made by the victim or members of the victim’s family, which outline the effects of the crime upon their lives. The prosecutor’s role is also to represent the views of society and emphasise that the accused deserves to be penalised in the most appropriate way and that it is vital for justice to be seen to have been carried out by the victim, their family and society as a whole. * Defence

The role of the defence is to represent the best interests of their client and to ensure that the defendant receives a fair sentence. * Victim
They can play a vital part in the sentencing process. The victim impact statements can provide a human side to the crime to counter the legal vernacular associated with procedural matters. * Factors affecting the decision

These are the purpose of punishment, the circumstances of the offence, circumstances of the offender, aggravating and mitigating factors, judicial discretion and limits on discretion. * Purpose of punishment

This is an important component of the sentencing process. When determining the sentence, the judicial officer has to consider factors like; the right to the accused to receive a fair punishment, the right of society to see justice carried out, the need to deter the defendant from reoffending, the need to deter other from carrying out such acts, and, the gaol sentence of the sentence itself-to deter, rehabilitate or incapacitate. * Circumstances of the offence – objective features

The circumstances of the offences are the objective features of the offence. The prosecution uses this O.F during both the trial itself and the sentencing hearing in an effort to reinforce the trial itself and the sentencing hearing in an effort to reinforce the severity of the crime. This allows them to push for the most appropriate penalty. The OF may include; the degree of planning; the motive for crime; the use of a weapon; the use or threat of violence. * Circumstances of the offender: subjective features

Judges will take into account not only the circumstances of the actual crime itself but also the circumstances of the offender. The circumstances of the offender are the subjective features of the case. These SF may include; the age of offender, sex of offender, prior convictions, whether the defendant pleaded guilty or not, the cultural background of the offender, etc. * Aggravating and mitigating factors

Aggravating factors include the age of the victim, the level of violence and whether the offender held a position of trust. The age of the victim is particularly important in assault cases. A more severe penalty may be imposed on someone who chooses victims who are vulnerable such as young children or the elderly. If there was a high level of “gratuitous” violence involved in the crime, making it more horrific for the victim to endure, this is seen to be an aggravating...
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