Judges and magistrates must consider a wide variety of factors when determining a sentence for an offender. Primarily, the sentence must coincide with the statutory guidelines e.g that set out in the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW), and the judicial guidelines that set precedent for all judges and magistrates in the state. Within this legislation are the purposes for which a sentence may be imposed, types of penalties, minimum/maximum sentences and mandatory sentences.
The purposes of sentencing are set out in the Crimes (Sentencing Procedures) Act 1999 (NSW) and fundamentally include deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation and incapacitation as the purposes by which a judge may impose a sentence. Deterrence intends to discourage specifically offenders from committing crimes or generally to make an example of an offender as a means of sending a message to the community. This can be seen in the R v Bilal Skaf case where Skaf was sentenced to 55 years imprisonment – the highest sentence on record given for a sexual assault crime as a means of discouraging Skaf and the community from committing such offences. Higher sentences may be passed in the hope of preventing future offences; however there is little evidence to suggest that this is effective as deterrence, rendering these higher sentences simply excessive. Retribution refers to sentences that are considered to be morally deserved, reflecting society’s desire to seek retribution on behalf of victims in an impartial manner through the courts. Retribution denounces the offender’s actions while recognising the harm done to the victim and the community. If an offence is particularly appalling or had serious consequences, judges will take this into account e.g R v AEM (Snr); R v KEM; R v MM (2002) NSW CCA 58 where teenagers were sentenced to very long terms of imprisonment due to the nature of their offence and its long lasting effects. Rehabilitation aims to discourage future offences by altering...
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