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When a person is convicted of a crime, mandatory sentencing is implemented.

The law establishes a specific penalty for each category of crimes committed. A convict is penalized in accordance with the interpretation of the circumstances of the offence.

In sum the purposes of mandatory sentencing are stated in 3A of the Crimes, Sentencing Procedure Act which stated that mandatory sentencing is implemented to ensure that the offender is adequately punished for the crime that he has committed.

This is also imposed to deter or prevent the commission of crimes of similar offences and to protect the whole community from the offender.

In some instances, this is to promote the rehabilitation of the offender, making him also accountable of his offences, so that he will have the acceptance of his guilt and make him recognize the injury that he has committed to the offended person.

In the imposition of sentences, the courts has the following options which include the rising of the court, dismissal and conditional discharge of the offended party, to impose fines or order community service.

In more serious crimes,

  • Privaintensive correction order
  • home detention
  • suspended sentence
  • full time custodial imprisonment

There is no death penalty in New South Wales, or indeed in the rest of Australia, although there continues to be considerable support for this option. In this regard, fortunately, there has been a break with American practice.

The option of periodic detention has been replaced with the intensive correction order.

The lack of availability of the otherwise appropriate penalty does not mean that you then select the next most lenient penalty; rather, the most appropriate penalty of those available should be imposed: Tsokos (1995) PD [240].

Sentencing Options In the Children's Court

In the Children's Court there are the following sentencing options:

  • dismissing the charge, with or without a caution
  • a good behaviour bond of 2 years or less
  • a fine of no more than 10 penalty units, or the maximum fine for the offence, whichever is lesser
  • a fine and a bond
  • release on condition of complying with the outcome plan of a conference under the Young Offenders Act
  • a Griffiths type remand ( Griffiths (1977) 137 CLR 293)
  • release on probation for a period not exceeding 2 years
  • a community service order of up to 100 hours if the child is under 16, or up to 250 hours (depending on the maximum penalty of the offence) if the child is 16 or over (s. 13 Children Community Service Orders Act).
  • a suspended sentence of up to 2 years
  • a detention order of up to 2 years

Mandatory sentencing differs from one country to another. In Australia, mandatory sentencing underwent a controversial phase. It had given a lot of problems to aboriginal people and was found out as one of the highest known cause of suicide rates in the world among young aborigines.

In fact, in 2008, there was a recommendation for the abolition of mandatory sentencing because many people complained that it is discriminatory to the indigenous populace. Likewise, there is an opinion that it also violates the provisions of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In the implementation of mandatory sentence, there are resilient rules to be followed. First, the penalty for persons convicted of federal offences should be exact, consistent and proportional to the enormity of the crime committed.

In the implementation of mandatory sentence, it should be guided by just and humane principles. Torture and capital punishment, by any means should be avoided by the authorities. Imprisonment, as mandatory sentence should be the last resort.

In mandatory sentencing, there are also reliefs granted to the offender upon complying certain requirements. Parole is available to an offender who has served the period of his sentence. Parole is also obtainable to all Commonwealth prisoners.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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